James Shields has been an Opening Day starter for seven of his 11 full seasons in the Majors, one of just six active pitchers who have reached that mark. His trend will continue in 2018, as the White Sox have tabbed the 36-year-old right-hander for the March 29 opener at
James Shields has been an Opening Day starter for seven of his 11 full seasons in the Majors, one of just six active pitchers who have reached that mark. His trend will continue in 2018, as the White Sox have tabbed the 36-year-old right-hander for the March 29 opener at Kansas City, the club announced.
Shields will join Edinson Volquez as the only active pitcher to make Opening Day starts with four different clubs -- the Rays, Royals, Padres and now White Sox. He's posted a 4.71 ERA in his previous such starts.
After two subpar seasons since coming over in a trade with San Diego -- he is 9-19 with a 5.99 ERA over 231 1/3 innings with Chicago -- Shields is hoping to find a late-career renaissance of sorts in 2018. Never shy to express confidence and a positive attitude, Shields has been retooling his delivery this spring with conviction that it could lead to a career rejuvenation.
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The Opening Day start had long been speculated for Shields. The veteran was the logical candidate for Opening Day in a rotation that still lacks clarity on the back end.
Carlos Rodon would've been the likely favorite, but the left-hander is expected to be out until June. The club has plenty in the pipeline -- five of their Top 10 prospects are pitchers, including No. 10 overallMichael Kopech, who may crack the Majors in 2018 -- but the rebuilding club is in no rush to accelerate its youthful farm system, ranked the Majors' third-best by MLB Pipeline.
By all indications, Lucas Giolito will start the second game, followed by Reynaldo Lopez. Carson Fulmer was expected to be the club's No. 5 starter breaking camp, but his struggles may open the door for Hector Santiago.
The 2018 season will be the final year of the four-year, $75 million deal Shields signed with San Diego. He is slated to earn $21 million, and has a 2019 option at $16 million that comes with a $2 million buyout.
Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.