I make this entry at considerable risk. I’m going to put something in print that runs the considerable risk of jinxing the Rays’ prospects for success this season. Still, I’m positively giddy over James Shields’ performance so far this year.
No, it hasn’t been perfect. Yes, the season is only a few weeks old. Yes, he wasn’t nearly as good near the end of last season as when he started it (when he was called up). All the same, to this amateur viewer, Shields has shown flashes of being a pretty darn good pitcher. His twelve strikeouts should have been good enough for a win last Sunday (against the Indians). His performance last night apparently was good enough too (although I only read about it – I didn’t stay up to watch). I may have it all wrong, but I’d swear his velocity is up compared to last year. I thought I remembered seeing his fastball top out at 88-89 mph last year. This year it seems like it’s more often in the low 90’s. His changeup was already REALLY effective, but if his velocity is up on his fastball – it could become devastating.
Mostly, I’m just relieved they got a W on the road. It looked like the Angels made them really familiar with the woodshed.