Major League Baseball is back in full swing and Tullahoma native Justus Sheffield will get the start for the Seattle Mariners Tuesday, when his team heads to Los Angeles to take on the Angels.
This is the first time that Sheffield has made an Opening Day roster at the major-league level. Sheffield, a 2014 Tullahoma High School graduate, was drafted in the first round by the Cleveland Indians right out of high school.
In 2016, the left-handed pitcher was traded to the New York Yankees. He made his major-league debut at Yankee Stadium in the ninth inning on Sept. 19, 2018, coming in to pitch the final inning against the Red Sox.
Prior to the 2019 season, Sheffield was once again traded, this time to the Seattle Mariners. Sheffield was dealt to Seattle in a trade for pitcher James Paxton. As fate would have it, in Sheffield’s second start for the Mariners, he not only went up against the Yankees, but was opposing Paxton.
In that start, Justus took the loss, lasting 4.1 innings. Justus allowed five runs, on six hits, while striking out five batters as New York got the long ball going.
The loss was the only decision for Sheffield, as he finished the year with a 0-1 record, despite starting seven games for the Mariners. Sheffield struck out 37 batters in 36 innings pitched and had an ERA of 5.50.
Last season was one of ups and downs for Justus. After starting the season at the triple-A level in Tacoma, he would go on to pitch once for the Mariners, coming out of the bullpen on April 26 against the Texas Rangers. However, in that outing, Sheffield was a little erratic for the Mariners, surrendering a pair of runs, including a homerun and four walks.
That performance carried over when he was recalled to triple-A, as the left-handed was never able to find his groove. After being demoted to double-A, Sheffield regrouped and was able to put up stellar numbers for the Arkansas Travelers.
That effort allowed Justus to be called up straight to the majors, rejoining the Mariners Aug. 23 in a home game against Toronto. In his first start for Seattle, Sheffield surrendered three runs, two of which came in the first inning, and allowed seven hits and three walks, while striking out three batters. After pitching four innings, he received the no-decision in that game, as the Mariners battled back for the victory.
In September, Sheffield found his groove, with a pair of solid outings. During an away game at Chicago, Sheffield threw five innings of shutout baseball, giving up just two hits and two walks, while striking out seven batters.
He followed that start, by allowing a run in six innings during a home game against Cincinnati. Sheffield allowed seven hits and three walks and struck out four batters in the no decision.
After the Mariners open the season with a four-game series in Houston, Seattle will then travel to Los Angeles for a three-game set with the Angels. First pitch for Tuesday’s game is scheduled for 8:40 p.m. Central Time.