Joe continues to watch James Shields get slapped around repeatedly — again today in the 7-3 loss to the Red Sox — and can’t help but wonder whether Sheilds is just the innings-eating, very hittable starter he was back in 2009 and 2010.
A peek and the stats, and Shields is pretty much the same guy he was back then minus the incessant long balls. Though watching him, he’s clearly much more mature on the mound.
But Joe’s not seeing where the fix is going to come with Shields. His velocity is there. He seems to still have nearly all the poise and maturity he showed last season. Teams have simply figured him out, and even a staunch optimist should have trouble projecting how Shields is going to right his season over his final 14 or so starts.
For Joe, the Sheilds dropoff is a huge hurdle to overcome to make the playoffs. Even if the bats come alive and fulfill every fan’s 2012 fantasy, they need Shields to stop throwing batting practice.
Ben Zobrist used to be a good baserunner, too, but that’s a rant for another day.