While messing around with some statistical comparisons, I came across one that I'm pretty sure nobody has ever heard of or even thought of; James Shields is Francisco Cordova.
Who? Francisco Cordova, the old Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher of course. Cordova made 112 starts from age 24-28. He pitched 753.2 innings of 3.96 ERA/4.02 FIP ball over the course of his brief career. So far, James Shields has made 115 starts from age 24-27. He has pitched 753.1 innings of 3.98 ERA/4.01 FIP ball. Somehow after the first 750 plus innings of these pitchers career, those numbers are almost identical.
After doing a little bit of digging, neither pitcher is/was much of a strike out pitcher with Shields edging Cordova with a career K/9 of 7.08 to 6.41. Shields also exhibited better control with a K/BB of 3.64 compared to Cordova's 2.29. Where Cordova made up the different in FIP was HR/9. While Shields's HR/9 stands at 1.16, Cordova came slightly under a homer per nine at .90.
I must admit I do enjoy statistical comparisons such as this one, but in most cases they do little as a predictive measure. And in the case of Shields and Cordova, I hope this is the case. Cordova battled arm injuries in 2000 at the age of 28 and was forced to retire from the Major Leagues. However, he did make a bit of history before leaving the game. On July 12th, 1997, Cordova pitched the first nine innings of a combined 10 inning no-hitter for the Pirates. According to Wikipedia, this is "the only combined, extra-inning no-hitter in modern MLB history." Cordova can now be found pitching for the Diablos Rojos del Mexico in his native country. Hopefully things will work out better for Shields.