White Sox will need to add a durable veteran starting pitcher to its young rotation for next season. The void left by former starter has to be filled.
James Shields wasn’t the best starting pitcher with the White Sox during his tenure with the team. In fact, he was often times the team’s worst starting pitcher. However, what Shields did provide the White Sox was a durable starter during his time on the south side.
With Shields likely not being signed by the Sox after his option was declined, the franchise will have to fill a void left by the 36-year-old starting pitcher. Most fans might scoff at the notion of the Sox needing to fill a void left by a pitcher that went 16-35 with a 5.31 ERA during his three seasons in Chicago.
But Shields pitched the most innings with the Sox this past season with 204.2 over 33 appearances. The only other starting pitcher to come close to 200 innings pitched in 2018 was Reynaldo Lopez with 188.2. After not recording an ERA under 5.00 in his first two seasons with the Sox, Shields had his best year with the team in 2018 with a 4.53 ERA and 154 strikeouts.
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The Sox will need to sign a pitcher that can match or exceed Shields’ production from this past season. As it stands now, the Sox have three starting pitchers for 2019 in Lopez, Carlos Rodon and Lucas Giolito. Rodon has had durability concerns over the past two seasons and Giolito is coming off a year where he pitched 173.1 innings and was inconsistent.
A young starting rotation will need a reliable veteran arm that can pitch deep into games on a consistent basis. There are many free agent starting pitchers available that can fill the void left behind by Shields. The Sox have a good opportunity to add one or two veteran starters this offseason which would help them dramatically for 2019.
The Cleveland Indians are reportedly listening to offers for most of their veteran players and didn’t offer some veterans qualifying offers to begin the offseason. With the opportunity to surprisingly contend in 2019, the Sox window to becoming perennial contenders could be opening sooner than expected. The need to improve the team couldn’t be more important than it is now.
Shields didn’t have his best years pitching in the Majors with the Sox, but he was a serviceable starting pitcher for the team in 2018. If the Sox are going to have any chance of contending next season, they will need a pitcher that can reach 200 or more innings pitched over the course of a year. The void left by Shields can’t be ignored by the Sox this offseason.