Well, today is exactly why Dayton Moore traded for James Shields.
There has been a good deal of snark directed at Shields’ nickname, some of it with a firm foundation in fact, but when you trade your best hitting prospect (by a mile at the time) and one of the best prospects in the game, one is pretty much expecting James Shields to take the mound late in the summer with first place on the line. And one is pretty much expecting that James live up to his nickname.
After a rough three start stretch at the end of June (14 runs allowed in 19 innings), Shields has been – dare we say it? – a number one starter. He has gone seven innings or more in five of seven starts and allowed two runs or less in six of those seven starts. That includes going eight innings on August 3rd while allowing just four hits, no walks and two runs and going the distance in a four-hit shutout on August 9th.
The Royals have gone 3-1 in Shields’ last four starts, despite scoring a combined total of just 12 runs.
Yeah, this is pretty much the guy you want out there when facing the Oakland A’s and Jeff Samardjiza on a Thursday afternoon with your team holding a half game lead in the A.L. Central.
We can debate whether Shields is really ‘Big Game James’, but I don’t believe you can debate that today’s non-televised businessman’s special is indeed a Big Game. The Royals need Shields to be his nickname…or at least do a Jason Vargas impersonation.