James Shields: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

James Shields, Kansas City Royals

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James Shields will start for the Kansas City Royals in their one-game AL Wildcard game against the Oakland Athletics.

Here’s what you need to know about the Royals pitcher.

1. He’s Been a Leader for Royals Comeback

James Shields, Kansas City Royals

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Kansas City’s comeback from one of Major League Baseball’s laughing-stock teams to a playoff team has been one of the feel-good stories of the year.

And Shields has been a major part of that comeback, as he has been one of the Royals’ most prominent pitchers, posting a 14-8 record with a 3.21 ERA this season.

2. He Was Acquired From Tampa Bay in 2012

James Shields, Kansas City Royals

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Shields came to Kansas City from Tampa Bay – where he played from 2006 to 2012 – in a trade that involved Wade Davis, Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard.

Since the trade, Shields has been great in Kansas City. In his first year as a Royal, Shields posted a 13-9 record with a 3.15 ERA, also setting a personal best in games started.

Since Shields arrived, the Royals have had their first consecutive winning seasons since 1993 and 1994, and this year they made the playoffs for the first time since 1985.

3. He’s Likely to Be a Free Agent This Offseason

James Shields, Kansas City Royals

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Shields is only under contract for Kansas City through this offseason, and is likely to be headed elsewhere.

According to the Kansas City Star, Shields’ contract is expected to be in the range of four or five seasons and cost between $80 and $110 million. The Royals have never offered a deal like that, leaving teams like Boston, New York and Los Angeles as the early-favorites to land Shields this winter.

“I just hope we get the better end of one of the studs tomorrow,” designated hitter Billy Butler told the Star on Monday afternoon, after 5,000 fans gathered inside the park for a rally.

4. He’s Known As ‘Big-Game James’

James Shields, Kansas City Royals

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When Shields was in the Tampa Bay Rays’ minor league system, a teammate who was a fan of the basketball player James Worthy started calling Shields “Big Game James.”

The tag followed him to the majors as he gained a reputation for pitching well under pressure.

“I wear that nickname with pride,” Shields joked.

With the 32-year-old starting Kansas City’s biggest game in decades, there is no bigger game to live up to the name.

5. His Wife is a Professional Photographer

James Shields, Kansas City Royals

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Shields’ wife, Ryane, is a professional photographer and owns her own business. They were married in November 2007 in Hawaii, and have two daughters. During the offseason, the family lives in San Diego.

Shields is also the first cousin of former White Sox outfielder, Aaron Rowand.

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