James Shields is on his way to having the best season of his career. That fact alone means he has the highest value he’s ever had. According to Dan Szymborski’s updated ZiPS 2011 projections (courtesy of FanGraphs), Shields is on pace to post career bests in strikeouts and innings pitched. While that’s great, fantasy managers should only be worried about the rest of the season — not the final season line.
Shields could very well post career bests in a lot of categories, but most of the work needed to do so may have already been completed. With the help of a .269 BABIP and 82.6 LOB%, Shields has posted a 2.85 ERA. Managers have to be wary of sticking around to see how far down the regression hole he will go. According to ZiPS, his final season line could be in the mid-to-high 3′s (3.76 is the exact projection). That looks great, but all that matters is how he performs from this point forward. According to ZiPS, from this point forward, Shields is projected to post a 4.40 ERA… not so great. Luckily, when you propose a trade to your league-mates, they’ll likely just see the pitcher’s season line.
For what it’s worth, I’d be cautious about dealing Shields as if he’s a lock to regress to a mid-4 ERA pitcher. I love his increased ground ball rate and decreased contact rate, which has helped him rack up strikeouts. Moreover, as his xFIP (2.88) suggests, any negative regression in LOB% of BABIP could be offset by a reduction in HR/FB rate (13.8%). If you believe he’s made adjustments to his game, I’d lean more toward his FIP (3.48) as indicative of his talent going forward.
- Angel Pagan stole his third base in three games last night. After a slow start and a DL stint that sidelined him for a month, he’s been hot but hasn’t flashed much power.
- Hanley Ramirez has resumed baseball activities and could return on Tuesday.
- Curtis Granderson hit his 18th home run. He as a Grandy owner, I won’t complain if he settles into a one home run per week player.
- Clayton Kershaw was roughed up for the second start in a row. He has a career 5.76 ERA in 9 starts at Colorado.
- Evan Longoria returns to the starting lineup tonight after being knocked out by the flu for most of the week.
- Adam Dunn homered after returning from his 2-day break on the bench.
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