“Big Game James” continues to dominate.
James Shields held the Astros to one run in a complete game victory last night. He allowed just three hits while striking out nine and walking just one. It was his third consecutive complete game and his MLB-leading sixth complete game of the season. It’s a pretty incredible accomplishment when you consider that the 29-year-old right-hander entered the year with five complete games over 151 career starts.
Shields actually set out to finish more games this season, but told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that he has exceeded even his highest expectations.
“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.”
Shields is now 8-4 with a 2.29 ERA and 117/28 K/BB ratio over his first 16 starts this season. Justin Verlander has essentially been ruled out to pitch in the All-Star Game, so there’s a decent chance that either Shields or Jered Weaver will start for the American League.
UPDATE: Rays manager Joe Maddon told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that Shields is lined up to start July 10, so he will likely be ineligible to pitch in the All-Star Game. So much for that idea.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.