It’s no secret that the White Sox are in the midst of a massive rebuild and James Shields is the elder statesmen on the team.
Of the pitchers currently on the roster, Shields should be given the opportunity to lead the team at least one more time.
Renteria is keeping quiet, for now
According to Chris Kuc with the Chicago Tribune, Renteria is not yet ready to say who will get the ball on March 29. Many other managers in the league have made their announcements and many have not come as much of a surprise. For example, Clayton Kershaw will start for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Justin Verlander will start for the Houston Astros. And, just today, Chase Anderson was named the starter for the Milwaukee Brewers. Jon Lester will open for the team to the north.
"Renteria said: “Give me three or four days and maybe 10. We’ll put it together. We’re still working on getting all of these guys seen and we’ll have that for you soon.”"
Shields knows how to open a season
James Shields has several Opening Day starts. He opened four seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, two with the Kansas City Royals, and one with the Kansas City Royals. He has not yet started on Opening Day for the Sox, simply because the team had better pitchers like Chris Sale and Jose Quintana.
The symbolism of a Shields start
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Shields has had ups and downs with the Sox, but the mound on March 29 should be his. If not for his current ability, it should be for the symbolism. He is the oldest player on the team and getting one last Opening Day start would symbolize the changing of the guard.
Shields can enter free agency in 2019. His 2018 contract of $11 million will be paid by the Padres. But, in 2019, he has a $2 million buyout and a $16 million option. With the young guard on the way, Shields will have to be lights-out to have the Sox offer that option to him.
What Shields has done in 2018
Shields started on March 8 against the Texas Rangers. He threw four innings giving up three hits and a home run earning a 2.25 ERA and a WHIP of 1.00. His nearest competition for Opening Day is Miguel Gonzalez who has had very different outings. In his first, he pitched two innings and gave up four hits. But, in his second, he couldn’t get out of the first before giving up five runs. It would be nice to see Shields one more time; that time should be coming soon.
No matter what he does (with the exception of injuring himself), he should get one last Opening Day start simply so he can relish in the opportunity. And, the 36-year-old can symbolically end the old era of the White Sox as the new one will ring in 2019.