Attacking Kris Bryant … soft, softer, softest
James Shields knows what he’s doing.
Look at his resume. Look at the innings, the success. The guy keeps a big binder of pitch tendencies, what he’s done to who, when and how. He’s got the stuff and he has the brains, too.
Derek Norris told me about the binder in Spring Training. That’s when he realized that Shields was really in-tune with the game — his game.
Move ahead to Friday, with the world looking in (it seemed) on rookie Kris Bryant’s debut for the Cubs. Shields needed three pitches to strike him out in the first inning. He then added two more strikeouts, taking a very similar approach.
Cutters and changeups, located out of the fat part of the hitting zone. On a day when Shields, in his own words, wasn’t at his best, he executed against Bryant — maybe knowing the rookie would be amped-up and hunting for fastballs.
“He may have used his aggressiveness against him. He has the kind of cadre of pitches to do something like that,” said Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who knows Shields well from their time together with the Rays.
“James is good. I was hoping he would hang a change-up. If he had it would have gone far but he kept getting them in good spots for him and bad for us.”
Expect this entry to go into the Shields’ binder. Another name, another note, something to consult when these two meet again.
— Corey Brock