Two weeks ago I wrote a post called “James Shields Messed With A Good Thing And It Is Biting Him In The Ass This Year.” The conclusion was that Shields was throwing too many off-speed pitches. And despite not having a great one, Shields needed to throw his fastball more.
Since then, Shields has made his two best starts of the year (based on Game Score) and lowered his ERA from 4.52 to 4.08.
And what did Shields do differently? He threw more fastballs. Here’s a look at how his last two starts compare to the first 20 starts of the season as well as his 2011 season…
The changeup usage is down a little bit, but the number of fastballs is way up. And the results were 17 innings having allowed just 5 hits and one run.
Shields’ fastball is never going to be a great pitch. And he needs to be careful that teams don’t sit on it too much. But if he is going to be at his best, he needs his changeup to be most effective. And that is not going to happen unless he throws the fastball and keeps hitters off-balance.