With a record slightly above where they were at on this date last year, the Kansas City Royals look to build off of a winning April and push towards the playoffs in October. Although ranked towards the bottom of the American League in numerous offensive categories, the Royals starting pitching staff has been a strength thus far this season. With the rise of Yordano Ventura, and Danny Duffy toying with perfection, the strong work of James Shields has gone unnoticed, but nevertheless he has been the Royals best player so far.
When “Big Game” James was acquired in a trade last offseason from the Tampa Bay Rays, he was the most highly coveted pitcher in the organization since Zack Greinke. Although Shields does not necessarily have the win-loss ratio you would expect from the ace of the staff, he has been nothing if not consistent for the Royals in his time in Kansas City. There were numerous games lost by Shield last year where the Royals failed to give him enough run support in order for him to get the victory. Typically the ace of the staff faces the opposing team’s ace so the ball game is a low score. The Royals have been able to offer enough run support for Shields this year and up to this point in the season Shields is on pace to have the best record of his career.
Pitching is key
With the lack of runs in all forms this season for the Royals, it has been tough to rely on the offense to get the job done. The teams scoring numbers have been historically low, so the Royals have had to look towards the pitching in order to provide enough support to squeak out wins. Fortunately, so far this season this plan has worked out for the Royals, and James Shields has been leading the way for the team. Through ten starts this season, Shields has allowed one run or less six times, and has only one start where he has given up more than three runs. Shields is currently boasting a 2.67 ERA which is good by any standard, and could be even lower if you take out the May 2nd performance against the Detroit Tigers. Shields is averaging under just seven innings per start, which means he is giving his team a chance to win every time he takes the mound.
The Royals are going to need to rely on James Shields the rest of the season to give a strong front for the rotation. Shields, as I mentioned earlier, is on pace to have some of the best numbers of his career and hopefully it is just a coincidence that it comes before his free agency in 2015. Shields has been the most consistent starter the Royals have had in a long time and will be an integral part in the rotation for years to come if the organization decides to spend the money to make him part of the team’s success in years to come.
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