Royals Turn to Shields Monday to Finish Sweep of the White Sox

Jeremy SickelContributor IIIMay 6, 2013

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 30:  Starting pitcher James Shields #33 of the Kansas City Royals warms up prior to a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Kauffman Stadium on April 30, 2013 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Monday was originally a scheduled off day for both the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox. Due to the inconsistent weather early in the MLB slate, however, these two teams will finish up their weekend series in an afternoon game at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals will go for the sweep following Jeremy Guthrie's gem on Saturday and another come-from-behind victory—their 11th of the young season—on Sunday afternoon.

Kansas City will send James Shields to the bump to face Chris Sale.

The 17-10 Royals currently sit a half game behind the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central standings. Though still very early in the season, Monday's tilt with the White Sox could further stamp Kansas City's ticket to playing meaningful baseball deep into the summer.

Shields was asked to halt a two-game skid in his last start on Tuesday—which was heightened by the fact he was up against his former team, the Tampa Bay Rays. After a shaky first inning, he settled down and the Royals would up on the right side of the scoreboard 8-2.

Whether picking the team up during a tough stretch or doing his part in keeping the Royals hot, these are the moments that will define the specific reasons Shields was acquired this offseason.

Shields was the centerpiece of a facelift of the Royals' starting rotation by general manager Dayton Moore, that also included adding Ervin Santana and Wade Davis via trade, and re-signing Guthrie.

Starting pitching is no longer this team's glaring weakness. Through Sunday, Kansas City boasts a 3.40 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP, a K/9 rate of 8.3 and a K/BB ratio of 3.11—all good for top-eight totals in all of baseball.

For the Royals to keep up with the American League's other top teams, games like Monday's against the White Sox are must-win. It is in these spots Shields is expected to elevate the entire team with his performance.


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