James Shields: Latest Acquisition Makes Royals Rotation Respectable

Shawn Brubaker@@63brubakerContributor IIDecember 9, 2012

ST PETERSBURG, FL - OCTOBER 02:  Pitcher James Shields #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the game at Tropicana Field on October 2, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

The Kansas City Royals have traded for Tampa Bay Rays All-Star James Shields in a huge trade that drastically improves the front of the Royals rotation. 

CBSSports.com reports that the Royals shipped several prospects, including highly touted outfielder Wil Myers, to the Rays for Shields and relief pitcher Wade Davis.

While Davis is a nice piece of the puzzle, Shields is the crown jewel of this deal for the Royals, who instantly solidify their rotation with the move.

Shields is a pure innings-eater, capable of going deep into games. Shields averages around seven innings per game and regularly goes all the way. In his stellar 2011, Shields had 11 complete games. That's a complete game in one-third of his starts, something that should help the already solid Royals bullpen.

His fluid throwing motion and imposing size help Shields go deeper into games than almost anyone in baseball. Shields throws with minimal stress on his body, and his focus on control over power should keep him in the game for years to come.

Beyond his great stamina, Shields is an excellent control pitcher who excels with a variety of pitches. Shields' best pitch is probably his changeup, which averages 84 mph and has plenty of movement.

While not a powerful pitcher, with an average of 92 mph on his fastball, Shields has great control on his main pitch. His cutter fastball is also a thing of beauty thanks to its tremendous movement.

These pitches have helped Shields have some really tremendous seasons. His 2011 season remains his best; he pitched four shutouts and finished with a commendable 2.82 ERA.

Looking at the Royals rotation, Shields becomes the immediate ace, while Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana and Bruce Chen round out the rotation. Don't be surprised if Wade Davis also finds his way into the starting rotation, despite excelling as a relief pitcher.

With this improved rotation, the Royals have a chance to be competitive in an AL Central division that saw an 88-win Detroit Tigers squad win the division. Expect Shields to be a big part of a rejuvenated Royals team in 2013.