Last December 9, Royals GM Dayton Moore pulled the trigger on a “win now” trade that he got lambasted for as he dealt away the reigning Minor League Player of the Year to get immediate pitching help. The Royals acquired RHP James Shields, RHP Wade Davis and a PTBNL for a package of prospects that included Wil Myers. With the Royals on the rise and a significant amount of their minor league talent having reached the bigs, Moore felt that the future was now.
The winner of this trade obviously won’t be known for many, many years, but here’s a look at what Kansas City is getting from Shields. And it is exactly what they dealt for, so far this young season.
Shields has started 6 games and has put up numbers mostly right at, or better than, his career averages. He has a 2-2 record with a 3.00 ERA, wheras his career totals in those categories now sit at 89-75 and 3.87. The WHIP is down (1.048 vs. 1.218 career), BB/9 is an exact match of his career number of 2.1, and his K/9 is up (8.4 vs. 7.8). HR/9 are down at 0.6 vs. 1.1.
In head-to-head pitching matchups, Shields has faced Chris Sale, Cole Hamels, R.A. Dickey, Clay Buchholz, Justin Verlander and Alex Cobb. The Royals are 3-3 in those games against the other teams’ aces. One of those losses was an Opening Day 1-0 loss to Sale and the White Sox. Shields allowed a run on 8 hits with 0 BB and 6 K’s. The loss that Shields suffered against Toronto and Dickey saw James pitch a complete game with 3 runs allowed on 2 hits and 3 BB.
With the state of the Royals’ pitching in recent years, a 3-3 record in a run of games against those front-of-the-rotation pitchers would have been a lot to ask for. Kansas City’s ace vs. everybody else’s ace wasn’t much of a contest.
With Shields notching a win in last night’s 8-3 victory over Tampa Bay, the Royals improved to 14-10 and stayed 1/2 game behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central. The Rays got a taste of what Shields used to do for them as he went 7 strong innings, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and a BB with 7 K’s.
There’s a long way to go in evaluating this trade, but for his part, James Shields is doing exactly what Dayton Moore went out and acquired him to do.