I don’t remember the last time a big-ticket pitcher was booed off the mound in his home debut (not that I’ve done any research to that end), but that’s what greeted James Shields on Wednesday night in Chicago. I don’t quite find the pleasure or purpose in booing poor performance, but Shields sure didn’t leave those who are so inclined any other choice.
Two-plus innings, eight hits, seven runs (all earned), two walks, two strikeouts, three home runs and one wild pitch.
It was a long night for Shields made even longer thanks to a bevy of lengthy at-bats. Nine of the 16 hitters he faced saw at least three balls. That led to the rapid ascension of Shields’ pitch count.
He threw 32 pitches in the first inning, 47 in the second and finally five more to Anthony Rendon before he singled to open the third.
Eighty-four pitches. That’s the second-most pitches ever needed to record no more than six outs. And when I say “ever,” I mean “since no later than 1947, when pitch count data became the norm via Baseball-Reference’s Play Index tool.”
Shields actually joins three other starters who spent 84 pitches to get six outs. Russ Ortiz in 1999, Steve Parris in 2000 and Chris Young in 2007 all accomplished as little with as much. The “record” belongs to 23-year-old Matt Moore, who dialed up 86 pitches in his six-out stint in 2013.
Everyone knows this marriage between Shields and the Southsiders isn’t always going to be a smooth one. Since the start of 2015, Shields has made the majority of his starts in some cavernous National League venues, including Petco Park, Dodger Stadium and AT&T Park, and he allowed 42 home runs in 269.2 innings during that time. Bartolo Colon took him yard.
Now he moves to one of the game’s most homer-friendly pads. Including Wednesday’s thrashing, Shields has given up 12 homers in 74 career innings at U.S. Cellular Field. Rough outings are going to be on the menu. But the White Sox will deal with that as long as Shields eats up innings, preferably more than two per night. If there’s a silver lining to this for White Sox fans, it’s that they have probably seen the worst Shields has to offer.
Somewhere, an unfortunate soul in a two-quarterback league started Matthew Stafford, Kevin Kolb and Ryan Grant on Sunday. For you, it’s going to be a tough road to travel to the playoffs and you have my sympathy.
But for most everyone else, don’t panic. It’s week one. Since football is often equated to military action, was the outcome of the American Civil War decided after the Battle of Fort Sumter? Scoring was down, but defenses are usually ahead of offenses to start the season. While everyone was making a big deal of the lack of offense, I kind of expected it.
There isn’t a lot you can glean from the opening week and I’m not going to freak out just because Andre Johnson, DeAngelo Williams and Brandon Marshall didn’t turn in fantastic stat lines. Depending on how you rank them, five of the top-six WRs in fantasy drafts were held out of the end zone. Chris Johnson and Rashard Mendenhall were the only top-10 RBs to score more than 11 fantasy points in standard leagues. That doesn’t mean Maurice Jones-Drew and Frank Gore are going to have down seasons.
But that doesn’t mean that nothing I saw in week one concerned me for the future. For a list of what I am worrying about today, keep reading …