White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper believes the veteran right hander can have bounce back season in 2017. Is it too late for James Shields to provide value?
The Chicago White Sox will most likely depend on starter James Shields to pitch more than 180 innings next season. Although the veteran pitcher struggled this past season, can the White Sox count on him to have a bounce-back season in 2017?
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According to Scott Merkin of whitesox.com, White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper stated that Shields is a veteran pitcher that knows how to win. After being criticized by San Diego Padres owner Ron Fowler, and being traded to the White Sox, Cooper stated he was looking forward to a fresh start for Shields.
Shields had arguably his worst season in MLB for the Padres and White Sox in 2016. In 33 combined starts, Shields went 6-19 with a 5.85 ERA this past season. After being traded to the Padres, Shields went 4-12 with a 6.77 ERA for the White Sox in 22 starts.
"“The newness of a fresh season, not being traded for the first time at the Deadline, all the other stuff that surrounded him, the hammering of the [Padres] owner on him, the over-trying to make good on the trade and show us what he can do, it just didn’t work out the way we wanted it to work out. We got a fresh start and that’s kind of where I’m at with James Shields. I’m looking forward to the fresh start.” Don Cooper"
Shields had a few solid starts for the White Sox in 2016, his best start came against the Cubs on July 26. He pitched 8 shutout innings against the eventual World Series Champions. Other than this start, Shields didn’t pitch another scoreless outing in 2016 for the White Sox. If Shields is going to have a bounce-back season, he will have to work on keeping the baseball in the ballpark. Shields allowed 40 home runs in 2016, a career-high for a single season.
The White Sox won’t have a strong starting rotation next season, but they will need better efforts on the mound from Shields. If Shields can provide the team with quality starts, they can avoid reaching 100 losses in 2017. However, this is more easier said than done as Shields doesn’t look like the effective pitcher he once was with the Rays and Royals.