When James Shields was traded to the Royals, the Rays lost the leader of their rotation, and of team stats: wins, innings pitched, strikeouts, games started, complete games and shutouts.
If you're feeling sentimental, take a look back at Shields' history with the team, posted right after the trade. Warning: the GIF at the end may make it a bit dusty in here...
Though the Rays received Wil Myers and three other top prospects in return for the loss of Big Game James, it was still a bitter pill to swallow; but the staff thus far this year has made the transition a tad easier.
In particular, Matt Moore and Alex Cobb have been stellar, and Cobb faces off against Shields tonight. Cobb has proven capable of filling the workhorse role left vacant in Shields' departure, and has posted a 3-1 record with a 1.82 ERA. Shields is currently 1-2 with a 3.09 ERA for the Royals.
Shields admitted his excitement, and motivation, in facing his former team:
"I want to win every single time I go out there, but, yeah, definitely, there's no doubt, man, there's no doubt, I want to beat them," Shields said. "If I don't, I don't. It is what it is. They have a good team over there. They know me as well as I know them, so that should be a very interesting little chess game."
According to a bevy of Rays, tonight's reunion will be "weird, emotional, odd, awkward and strange." Hopefully the team can channel those post-breakup emotions into a win.
Additional Rays notes:
Around the league:
Stephen Strasburg had tightness in his forearm during his start against the Braves Monday, and though he adamantly told the media that he will be making his next start, Nationals manager Davey Johnson said that Strasburg "doesn't look right to me" and was "shaking his elbow more frequently." Strasburg gave up two runs, six hits, walked four and struck out eight in his six inning no-decision.
- The Rays were highlighted in Jonah Keri's "The 30" this week on Grantland, with the team ranking at number 16.
- Yes, small sample size, but the Blue Jays look destined for their 20th consecutive season without reaching the playoffs.
- According to Jeff Passan, the most interesting debate in baseball right now is "bubble or no bubble" with TV dollars and teams.