ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 9: Pitcher James Shields #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks at first base against the Kansas City Royals August 9, 2011 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Shields pitched a complete game and the Rays won 4 - 0. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
We're all aware of the struggles James Shields has gone through this season, especially the last five or so starts. Steve even wrote about it on Monday. What's wrong? How does he fix it? Where does he go from here? We don't have definitive answers for any of those questions, but as Adam Berry of MLB.com reports, Shields believes he may be on to something.
But Shields isn't about to change his routine or dramatically overhaul his process heading into Friday night's series opener against the Mariners at Tropicana Field.
Instead, he spent time watching video with pitching coach Jim Hickey and found "little, minor adjustments" he can make to get things back on track.
"If I stick with my routine, I think it's eventually going to catch up with me," Shields said. "Normally when you're going through a stretch like I'm going through right now, you see something very dramatic. But we didn't really see anything dramatic. It's a matter of just executing my pitches and going deep into the game and getting a win."
The "executing my pitches" line seems to indicate they're not making any mechanical adjustments, rather working on pitch sequencing and location, which were big issues in Shields' poor 2010 season. If it's as easy as making a few adjustments then hopefully he can pull it together. The light hitting Mariners are a good barometer.
Also from Berry's article, among players with 100 at bats Jeff Keppinger leads the team in average (.316) and on base percentage (.382). Who saw that coming in spring training? He also leads baseball (min. 150 PA) in contact rate at 95.3%. Carlos Pena has the sixth worst at 66.7%.
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