Thursday, July 27, 2017

James Shields is pitching? I'd rather watch 'Alf'

Wednesday night's White Sox game provoked a text conversation among my friends and I where we asked the question, "Could Alf hit a home run if he had a chance to face James Shields"?

Or better yet, could the 1980s TV sitcom character pitch well enough to earn a spot in the Sox bullpen?

Why Alf, you ask?

Well, reruns of that program air in syndication on MeTV at 8:30 p.m. weeknights in the Chicago area. And 8:30 p.m. is about the time when the average Sox game goes to hell, and fans start reaching for the remote control to find something else to watch.

So, flipping channels, you might find yourself watching "Alf." Did you know that when Alf gets the hiccups, the only two cures for him are cat juice and spinach?

Ah, that crazy Alf! You never know what he's going to do next.

Would Shields pitch better if we provided him with some cat juice and spinach before his next start?

The erstwhile right-hander got pummeled again Wednesday in an 8-3 loss to the Cubs. He made it through three innings unscathed, but he gave up a run in the fourth and four more runs in the fifth without recording an out. Shields, an alleged "innings eater," once again lasted only four innings and left a depleted Sox bullpen with five innings to cover. Alf eats more cats than Shields eats innings. It's a miracle the Sox only lost by five.

In his past four starts, Shields is 0-2 with an ERA of 9.00. This is not a new trend. Since he was acquired by the Sox in the middle of the 2016 season, he has gone 6-15 with 6.49 ERA in 32 starts.

How much longer do we need to put up with this? Shields profiles as a relief pitcher at this stage of his career. He can only get through a batting order one time before he implodes. Why do we think he's getting knocked out in the fourth or fifth inning every time he goes to the mound?

Thank goodness the "Alf" reruns come on about the time the fourth inning starts.

In all seriousness, it's time to remove Shields from the rotation and replace him with Reynaldo Lopez, who has nothing left to prove at the Triple-A level.

Lopez fanned 10 more hitters in his latest start Wednesday with the Charlotte Knights. He has compiled a 1.96 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 36.2 innings over his past six starts.

It's time to make a change. The Sox have a prospect who is forcing the issue. If Lopez is on the mound, I won't be switching over to watch "Alf," I promise.


  1. Great post!

    It's interesting though that he has ZERO relief appearances in his career. I wonder if he'd go to the pen or retire if the Sox took him out of the rotation.

    And in his defense - hard to do I know - he gets a LOT of borderline pitches called balls that other pitchers get called strikes. I wonder if some of that is the crappy catchers he's had to work with since his arrival. Maybe they should recall Rob Brantley and see if he makes a difference.

  2. You look at Shields, and you seem some similarities to the situation with Danks. Both men were fastball-changeup combo pitchers when they were pitching well. Both lost something off the fastball, Danks because of injury, Shields because of advancing age, and neither has been able to make the late-career adjustment.

    There just isn't as much of a gap between Shields' fastball and change anymore, and he can't fool batters the way he used to. He can't throw his fastball by anybody anymore. He has to be pinpoint with his command, and from my perspective, he doesn't trust his fastball. He screwing around off the edges of the plate, which could work against an aggressive hitting team. But a patient team is going to wait him out, draw some walks, force him to come back in the zone and make him pay when he does.