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James Shields Gets a Win

  • James Shields, meet run support; run support, James Shields. Consider that an American League average offense scores about 4.8 runs per game, and you have an odd situation with Shields. In 15 of his 23 starts entering tonight, the Rays had scored 4 or less runs for him. Last year the Rays scored 4 or less in 15 of 33; and in 2007 that number was 18 of 31. All told: 48 of Shields' 87 starts were escorted with a below league average offense. 55%. Over the last three years Shields has the fourth lowest run support in the American League (4.59 per nine innings pitched) meanwhile his FIP over that span of time is lumped with names like Justin Verlander, Andy Pettitte, A.J. Burnett, and Gil Meche. He's very good, and very unlucky. He's also very human, and when guys go through droughts you have to wonder whether he begins to press a bit. He hit some turbulence tonight but his offense bailed him out. That's a welcome change.
  • One game into the Gregg Zaun era and I could really get used to having him around. Aesthetically his no batting gloves with socks pulled shin-high combination please. His mullet is fantastic, and his mask, ripped off a former goalie's face no doubt, is a welcome sight. His skills at the plate are pretty evident. He makes contact when he swings, doesn't go out of the zone often, has a little power, and has no qualms about taking a called strike.  He sees four pitches per plate appearance on average. By comparison, Navarro sees 3.7 and Hernandez 3.5. 0.3 pitches per PA doesn't sound like much, but Joe Mauer only sees 4.2, Kevin Youkilis sees 4.5, Nick Swisher 4.3, and so on. Zaun is ridiculously patient and disciplined. He's absolutely perfect until a better option comes along.
  • Russ Springer and Dan Wheeler must get confused for each other a lot in public.



  • Evan Longoria's hamstring must be feeling better. Over the last 30 days his wOBA is back up to .372, which is basically equal to his 2008 wOBA. Speaking of Longoria, he is a mighty fine defender, isn't he?
  • Carrying 13 pitchers seems like a poor use of roster spots. I expected one of the LOOGY to be gone by August, and here we are, a week later, with two LOOGY, two new ROOGY, and four others in the pen. I understand the commitment to receiving value in any transaction, but they are left-handed relievers, and since we just designated another LOOGY for assignment, I don't think it's entirely likely we get much for either no matter what. The Book found that relievers are generally underworked when only carrying six-to-seven relievers, throw in another one and oh my heavens.
  • Speaking of which, the Rays bench on most nights will consist of Willy Aybar, Gabe Kapler, and Dioner Navarro. I'm guessing the plan is to run this crew out through September and then have Akinori Iwamura, Fernando Perez, and a merry troop of Calvary arrive for a suddenly empty bench.
  • A list of things I will miss about Joe Dillon: 1. His lists; 2. Mark things off this list.