Yesterday, James Shields put together his strongest start yet in a season filled with strong performances.

Shields mowed down the Marlins with a 13-strikeout, 1-walk, 3-hit shutout. It was Shields’ third complete game and second shutout of the season, raising his career to new heights. Prior to this season, Shields had only thrown three nine-inning complete games* and two shutouts in his entire career.

How impressive was Shields on Sunday? If we use Bill James’ Game Score metric, which looks at a pitchers overall performance in a single game, Shields start on Sunday was the best in Major League Baseball this season.

And if we team that with his back-to-back starts against the Jays and White Sox in April, Shields now has three of the top 15 starts in the AL this season…

On the season, Shields is 5-2 with a 2.00 ERA, 8.6 strikeouts per 9 innings and an amazing 4.9 strikeouts for every walk (typically 3.0 is considered very good).

Does this mean Shields is an early favorite for the American League Cy Young Award? Let’s take a look at how Shields resume stacks up against some other top pitchers.

 The only place Shields truly distinguishes himself is Game Score and his three dominating starts. No other pitcher has more than one of the top 25 starts in the AL this season.

But overall, Shields has to at least be in the mix. In fact, according to ESPN.com’s “Cy Young Predictor,” Shields is third in the AL.

Obviously there is a long ways to go. But so far, Shields has set himself up for what could be a magical summer.

* Shields had 5 complete games in his career prior to this season. However, two of those were losses in which he only worked 8 innings.

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6 Comments

  1. Erick says:

    I think Cy Young is a little early to start discussing, but I think he could make a very good case for being the AL starter in the All-Star game. Has there ever been two different pitchers from the same team be the All-Star starter in consecutive years?

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  2. Michael says:

    One of the biggest factors: innings.

    Shields: 67.2
    Beckett: 57.1
    Cahill: 65.1
    Haren: 73.1
    Weaver: 69.2
    Hernandez: 67.2

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  3. Derek says:

    Love how each of those teams has a great one-two punch this year, with LAA having it's one-two on that list.

    Hopefully, he has earned the respect of the fans in the area and that 7 mill option for next year. So much can change in a sub two month period. What, with people saying this guy had no business staring before Garza in the playoffs, to being one of the most respected guys on this team.

    Let the record show, that I called this bounce back season, as well as the step back season for Price.

    How about my fantasy team has Cahill, Shields, Hellboy, and CC. With the first three being three of my last five picks. Seriously, who's the man?

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  4. pete says:

    If Shields continues to pitch at this level or near it , then the 7 million dollar option is a no brainer. If Shields has "figured" it out and pitches like this next year also then we can kiss him goodbye as he signs a $100 million dollar contract.

    He has a change up that reminds me of Pedro Martinez in his prime. Right now he is the guy i want on the mound if we had to win 1 game or go home.

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    • Derek says:

      He has three club options. 7, 9, and 12 million, so if the Rays want to pay him, he has no choice but to pitch for them till the 2015 season.

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