ANAHEIM, Calif. -- James Shields entered the year having averaged 13 wins over the last nine seasons -- including 13 last season, his first with the San Diego Padres.
But Shields was horrible in San Diego this season, going 2-7 with a 4.28 ERA in 11 starts and was traded to the Chicago White Sox on June 4 for reliever Erik Johnson and a minor leaguer.
It might not have seemed possible, but Shields pitched even worse in his first four starts for Chicago. In those four games, he gave up 24 earned runs, 29 hits and 13 walks in 13 2/3 innings. He failed to last more than two innings in two of the starts.
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But when he takes the mound Saturday in Anaheim against the Los Angeles Angels, the White Sox are hoping they have the old Shields, who seems to have turned things around in his last three starts.
He gave up one run in 6 2/3 innings on June 29 to beat Minnesota, then gave up two runs in six innings on July 4 to beat the New York Yankees. In his most recent start on July 10, he got the loss despite giving up just two runs in 7 2/3 innings against Atlanta.
Some believe Shields was trying to do too much to impress his new teammates in Chicago and finally was able to slow things down and not rush his delivery.
"I'll say this -- I've had more help trying to fix James Shields than everybody else combined in 14 years, getting it from everybody," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper told MLB.com. "Those are four worse starts than anybody would ever have. They're nightmares for a guy.
"For him now to start fighting his way out of that shows a lot to me about who he is. I knew we were going to get him out, but I wasn't sure how quick it would happen. You always hope the sooner, the better."
The White Sox also likely will give Justin Morneau his first major league start of the season. The left-handed-hitting Morneau was activated before Friday's game but did not get the start because the Angels were throwing lefty Hector Santiago.
He did get in the game as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning, and grounded out to second.
With the Angels starting right-hander Matt Shoemaker, Morneau -- who has been out all season recovering from elbow surgery last December -- figures to be in the lineup.
Shoemaker, like Shields, has turned things around for the better after a slow start.
Shoemaker was 1-4 with a 9.15 ERA in five starts in April, resulting in a demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake. But because of injuries to the starting staff, the Angels had little choice but to call up Shoemaker just 10 days later.
And they were happy to see they got a pitcher who more closely resembled the Shoemaker who was the Rookie of the Year runner-up in 2014 when he went 16-4 with a 3.04 ERA.
In May, June and so far in July, Shoemaker has an ERA of 3.18, and even more impressive is his strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has 81 strikeouts and 12 walks in 76 1/3 innings since the end of April.
Shoemaker, though, has never beaten the White Sox in his career, going 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA, including a loss in April this season.