Tampa Bay Rays v Houston Astros

James Shields is ridiculous

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“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.

Athletics sign Santiago Casilla to two-year, $11 million deal

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 10: Santiago Casilla #46 of the San Francisco Giants throws a pitch during the 9th inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 10, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
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After letting rumors of the deal percolate for the last week, the Athletics officially announced their two-year, $11 million contract with right-hander Santiago Casilla on Friday (and threw a little bit of shade at the Giants, too). As previously reported, the contract includes an extra $3 million in performance bonuses.

Casilla, 36, got his major league start with Oakland back in 2004, racking up a 5.11 ERA and four saves over six seasons in the A’s bullpen. After picking up a minor league deal with the Giants in 2010, the righty flitted in and out of the closing role with varying degrees of success. Notwithstanding a slight downturn in his production rate during the 2016 season, he earned 123 saves and a 2.42 ERA during the past seven years in San Francisco. Securing another closing role might be a little tougher across the Bay, however, with a bullpen that includes fellow closers Ryan Madson, Ryan Dull and Sean Doolittle.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system. Who has the worst?

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 06:  General manager Dave Stewart of the Arizona Diamondbacks laughs on the field before the Opening Day MLB game against the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field on April 6, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Why is this man smiling? Man, I wouldn’t be smiling if I read what I just read.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility.

For the second straight year, Law ranks the Braves as the best system in baseball. Number two — making a big leap from last year’s number 13 ranking – is the New York Yankees. Dead last: the Arizona Diamondbacks, which Law says “Dave Stewart ritually disemboweled” over the past two years. That’s gotta hurt.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone.