Shields’ four-seamer velocity ticked down for the fifth straight season en route to a fifth straight season of a negative pVal (-3.7). The pitch allowed a .400-plus wOBA for the fourth consecutive year and had a 5.4 K% along with a 16.7 BB%.
Shields’ cutter improved to its best pVal in the past three years (-1.9). However, it still allowed a .360 wOBA. Despite the unsightly wOBA, the .290 BAA, 22.6 IFFB%, and 15.1 HR/FB% were also improvements over the past three years. Perhaps 2019 is the year when he brings his cutter back into the black.
Shields’ curveball suffered from the long ball in 2018. An increase from an 8.3 HR/FB% in 2017 to 23.1 HR/FB% in 2018 resulted in an increase in ISO from .109 to .228 and ultimately a -3.5 pVal.
Shields increased his changeup usage by 6.8% and earned a positive pVal (.3) for the first time since 2014. He increased his Zone% to 36.6, up from 29.2 in 2017, and managed a dramatic decrease in HR/FB% (33.3 in 2017, 3.0 in 2018).
Shields’ two-seamer improved for the third straight year—pVal 1.3—thanks to the best Z-Contact% he’s gotten on the pitch since 2007 (87.0%). He also managed a dramatic reduction in the BAA on the pitch, from .421 in 2017 to .190 in 2018, which may have been aided by a .182 BABIP.
Shields only broke out the eephus 3.42% of the time, and it’s essentially just the slower version of his curveball. While not a major part of his repertoire, the pitch performed well. The 23.0 SwStr% and 45.8 O-swing% led to a nice 50.0 K% and a .114 BAA.