James Shields has been a member of the Tampa Bay Rays for quite awhile, but his Opening Day start last week ended a significant streak for the team. It was Tampa Bay’s first start from a pitcher older than 30 since June 26, 2006, when Mark Hendrickson started for the team. When Hendrickson made that start, the Rays had finished higher than last place in the AL East just once, and that was a fourth place finish in 2004, which was the team’s only 70 win season until that point. The Rays would finish in last again in 2006 and again in 2007, winning a total of 127 games over those two seasons. But from 2008 to 2011, the Rays have three playoff berths, two AL East titles, and an AL penannt. Times have changed since the Mark Hendrickson era, that’s for sure.
Tampa Bay is also in the midst of another streak. Today’s start by Shields marks the 170th consecutive start from a player that the Rays had drafted. The last non-Ray-drafted player to start a game for the team came on September 30, 2010, when Matt Garza lost a 3-2 game against the Royals. The streak will likely continue for awhile, with the Rays entire five man rotation (Shields, David Price, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, and Jeff Niemann) featuring players drafted by the team. In AAA rotation however, only Alex Cobb was originally drafted by the team. Alex Torres came from the Angels, Chris Archer came from the Cubs, and both Bryan Augenstein and Matt Torra came from the Diamondbacks.
[h/t: SB Nation]