Padres Editorial: How Will James Shields Fare in the NL West?
By Tim Richer
Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
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Shields has had a little more experience and success against the Rockies compared to the Diamondbacks, but not much. His experience also comes a lot more recently. Last season he pitched at Coors Field with the Royals. Against the deep Rockies lineup, and the thin air, he was still able to find success allowing just two runs over six innings while striking out six, picking up the win. He did allow a solo home run, but it’s hard not to at Coors.
The reason his numbers at Coors look so ugly, is because of a rough outing he had there back in 2007, his first full season. Much like his lone start at Chase Field, it’s hard to put too much stock in a start at such an early stage of his career and so many years ago. He did give up two home runs that start, so he has given up three homers in just twelve innings there, but it’s not like he’s a fly ball pitcher who will get burned every time he steps foot in Colorado; his career fly ball percentage of 35.7% is just a tick above the average of 35%. As a matter of fact, his highest single-season fly ball percentage was in 2007 when he gave those four home runs in Arizona and Colorado.
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Kings of Kauffman
Unlike the Diamondbacks, all of the projected Rockies lineup has seen Shields before. Most notably Justin Morneau, who has the 22nd most plate appearances against Shields. I mentioned Morneau earlier when talking about the select few who have taken him deep four or more times. While his several at-bats against him give him an advantage over many others, he’s performed in those other at-bats as well with a fantastic OPS of 1.042. The combinations of Morneau and Coors might be too much for Shields to take, although he held him hitless when they met there last year.
The only other two Rockies who’ve had success against him have been Nolan Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez. It shouldn’t be too surprising that two the teams top hitters would be successful, but they’re both slugging over 1.000 off him, albeit in fewer than 10 at-bats. Still, if he wants to be successful against the Rockies, he’ll definitely need to get those two out.
The rest of the Rockies’ lineup have all had at least five plate appearances against Shields, yet none of the five have registered more than one hit. So going into his first start against the Rockies, he’ll know he’s got the number of five of the guys he’ll be facing, including their biggest star, Troy Tulowitzki.