Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Sheffield on shutout start: 'I love those moments'

@Russ_Dorsey1
September 2, 2019

CHICAGO -- When the Mariners acquired Justus Sheffield from the Yankees last offseason, they had to have hoped days like today were coming. Seattle’s No. 9 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, has been working to make his mark in his second opportunity after a brief first stint with the club.

CHICAGO -- When the Mariners acquired Justus Sheffield from the Yankees last offseason, they had to have hoped days like today were coming.

Seattle’s No. 9 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, has been working to make his mark in his second opportunity after a brief first stint with the club. After mixed results in his first two starts after being recalled, Sheffield put it all together in the Mariners’ 5-1 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Monday afternoon.

Box score

“I thought Justus Sheffield was awesome today,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “I’m really excited about what I saw out of him.”

Seattle’s young southpaw showcased his repertoire, going toe-to-toe with Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks and showing why many have been high on him since the Indians selected him with the 31st overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft.

Chicago had no answers for Sheffield, who struck out a career-high seven batters in the game. He threw nearly 60 percent of his 91 pitches for strikes -- including 21 swinging strikes, also a career high.

Fourteen of those swinging strikes came via the slider, which was a successful game plan against a Cubs lineup that feasts on fastballs.

“That was one of our main things. Just attacking. We had a good game plan coming into this game and I just wanted to stick to it,” Sheffield said. “I wanted to get in there and get those guys out of there as quickly as possible. We also mixed in a few changeups and landed them a little better than last week.”

“That’s the best slider we’ve seen out of him and he had a good changeup,” Servais said. “Huge step for him going forward. I think we’re starting to see him get better outing by outing.”

While executing pitches is a key part of success for any pitcher, being able to control emotions under pressure and still execute can be difficult for young pitchers.

“Last time pitching against the Yankees, one of his former teams, he was hyped up and fired up about that,” Servais said. “I think experience, you have to go through these things. You have to pitch at Wrigley Field, Fenway Park or against the Yankees to see where you’re at. It really is the true test.”

Sellout crowds at Wrigley Field can also rattle pitchers, even ones who aren’t 23 years old. Yet, after letting the moment get to him last time, Sheffield pitched like he had been there before.

The young lefty worked through jams with runners in scoring position in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings. Even after taking a line drive off the shoulder, Sheffield was able to make big pitches when he needed to to come away unscathed.

The Cubs went 0-for-8 with four strikeouts against Sheffield with runners on base. He finished the game with five scoreless innings, allowing five hits, striking out seven and walking two.

“I love those moments. I think it’s pretty cool,” Sheffield said. “It’s not every day somebody can go out there and pitch in a crowd like this. Just wanted to have fun and make the most of it.”

Russell Dorsey is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @Russ_Dorsey1.