Mike Trout

Will James Shields stick with 'different' look in 2018?

Will James Shields stick with 'different' look in 2018?

Ever since James Shields dropped down his arm angle, the strikeouts have increased considerably.

The White Sox pitcher struck out eight more batters in Monday night’s 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. Shields, who pitched seven innings to earn a victory, has averaged nearly a strikeout per inning since he began to throw from a three-quarters angle in the middle of an Aug. 5 loss at Boston. While Shields still hasn’t perfected the new look -- he’s not even sure he’ll bring it back in 2018 -- it has caught the attention of opposing hitters.

“That was definitely a different Shields,” Angels outfielder Mike Trout said. “He was moving the ball around tonight.”  

Shields might consider sticking with the lowered angle. The veteran often insists the adjustment is a work in a progress, though his results have continued to improve (he’s got a 3.51 ERA in his past four starts).

Overall, since Shields made the switch he has a 4.33 ERA in 60 1/3 innings, nearly two points below the 6.19 ERA he produced in his first 56 2/3 frames. Shields has also seen a reduction in home runs allowed per nine innings from 2.38 to 1.79.

But the most drastic change has been in strikeouts. Shields has increased his strikeout-rate to 23.5 percent, up from 16.6 percent. He’s whiffed 59 batters since making the adjustment after only 44 prior.

“He already curls, he closes off,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He's got a cross-angle delivery, so you see his back a lot. But I think the variance in velocities, the breaking ball, he'll run the fastball, sink it. He's doing a lot with it, there's a lot of action going on so it's going to both sides of the plate. But the variance of velocity, especially with the breaking ball, sometimes it pops up there as an eephus or something. He's doing a real nice job.”

Shields has one season left on his current deal and seems likely to return to anchor a young White Sox rotation in 2018. Whether or not he’ll stay with the current setup remains to be seen.

“We’ll see,” Shields said “I’ll make some assessments in the offseason, and see how that works out, see how my body is feeling. Over the last month and a half, it seems to be working out. we’ll see how it goes.

“I’m revamping every year man. This being my 12th season, you’re always trying to refine your game every year, no matter what, whether it’s a pitch or mechanical adjustment. The league makes adjustments on you. I’ve faced a lot of these hitters so many times. I think Robbie Cano I’ve had almost 100 at-bats in my career against. But at the end of the day, you always have to make adjustments.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Eloy Jimenez wants 'to be one of the best players in baseball'

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Eloy Jimenez wants 'to be one of the best players in baseball'

The White Sox centerpiece in the Jose Quintana trade, Eloy Jimenez, came on the podcast to talk with Chuck Garfien about what it was like being traded from the Cubs to the White Sox, his approach as a hitter and why he wants to be as good as Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout. He explains how he learned English, why it's important to him, and how far away he thinks he is from playing in the major leagues.

Then Garfien speaks with Jimenez' new manager, Willie Harris who is the skipper for the Winston-Salem Dash. Harris talks about his impressions of Jimenez, as well as some of the White Sox top prospects he manages: Zack Collins, Dane Dunning, Luis Basabe and Alec Hansen. Later, CSN's Chris Kamka joins the podcast to talk about the latest Todd Frazier trade rumors. Did a medical issue with a Red Sox prospect stall a possible Frazier trade to Boston? That and more on this edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast. 

Check out the entire podcast here:

Avisail Garcia's breakout season has him soaring up AL All-Star ballots

Avisail Garcia's breakout season has him soaring up AL All-Star ballots

After nearly four years, Avisail Garcia is finally starting to display the promise he showed when the White Sox targeted him as a key piece in three-team trade deadline deal with the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox back in 2013.

Through 53 games, the 26-year-old Garcia is slashing .330/.370/.532 with eight home runs and 38 RBI. Garcia has already matched a career-high in triples (3) and has a current career-best OPS of .902.

While he's shown a marked improvement at the plate, Garcia has also turned in a positive dWAR (0.3) for the first time in his career.

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The rest of MLB has taken notice of Garcia's breakout season as the White Sox outfielder is currently 5th in American League All-Star outfield voting.

Garcia has accumulated 479,439 votes, which puts him behind New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (1,251,543), Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (1,155,356), Cleveland Indians left fielder Michael Brantley (554,620) and Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts (519,146). 

Garcia is the only White Sox player who currently ranks in the Top 5 at their respective position.

Check out the the latest AL ballot below:

Click here to vote for your favorite White Sox players to start in the All-Star Game.