Big Game James: Fantasy MVP

James Shields became the first pitcher in Rays history to toss three straight complete games and Evan Longoria homered and drove in three runs to lead Tampa Bay to a 5-1 win over the Astros in Houston last night. Labeled Big Game James, the Rays number two has done everything he can to make St. Pete forget about Matt Garza, who was traded to the Cubs in January. Originally met with bewilderment, the trade brought Super Sam Fuld, right-handed pitcher Chris Archer, outfielder Brandon Guyer, catcher Robinson Chirinos and shortstop Hak-Ju Lee to Tampa in exchange for Garza, a minor-league pitcher and a minor-league outfielder. These days its the Cubs fans who are biting their respective tongues as Garza heads into Monday’s start with a 3-6 record, 4.11 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. Garza’s #2 spot in the Rays’ rotation is now filled with a pitcher that slated to start the 2011 All Star game for the American League barring any setbacks (and Jared Weaver)

After Friday’s dominate performance, Shields is now 8-4 with a 2.29 ERA and 117/28 K/BB ratio over his first 16 starts this season. He leads the majors with six complete games and is the first pitcher since Toronto’s Pat Hentgen in 1997 to have six complete-game wins through the first 76 games.

“I definitely didn’t think it would be this many. I was thinking three or four, something like that,” Shields said. “This is unbelievable. This is not how I expected to start, but this is exactly how I want to start. And I’m going to try and keep it going.”

FANTASY IMPACT

Shields is undoubtedly the  mid season SP MVP in ESPN leagues, racking up a whopping 363 points with at least two starts left until the break. In no way was Shields projected to thrive in the hitter friendly AL East which may lead to owners using Shields as trade bait, but I intend to stick with my new ace. His only downfall is his  83.5 LOB% (Left on Base %). Eventually that’ll catch up to you as a pitcher and some of those runners are going to start scoring.


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