James Shields returns to the Trop

To most regular Major League Baseball fans, July 7th's match-up between the Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays looks like just another game. But you better believe to Dayton Moore and Rays General Manager Andrew Friedman, this game is filled with much greater significance. One could actually say bragging rights are on the line

Kansas City has faced off with Tampa Bay nine times since the blockbuster trade that sent James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals with the Rays receiving Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi in return. With that being said, there are two reasons that the 10th meeting between these two teams is special.

This match up marks the first time Shields will pitch on the diamond (Tropicana Field) where he earned the the only World Series win in Rays history. Big Game James will also be squaring off with the prospect who replaced him (Odorizzi).

Shields comes into this battle with a 3.93 ERA and a record of 8-4, while Odorizzi is 4-7 with a 4.16 ERA.

The Royals have certainly owned the Rays with an 8-1 record against Tampa Bay since the 2012 off season trade. With that being said, Tampa Bay got the last laugh a season ago as they made the playoffs while Kansas City came up five games short of a postseason berth.

I believe you can argue that both teams have benefited from the trade, due to the simple fact that both teams improved upon their win totals from 2012. With that being said, I would make the argument that the Rays benefited from this trade in 2013 due to the fact that Myers grabbed the Rookie of the Year Award.

As far as the 2014 season goes, you have to say the Royals so far have gained more from this trade. The production of Wade Davis has been remarkable. Davis currently holds a 1.23 ERA with 58 strikeouts over 36.2 innings pitched.

The Rays on the other hand have to be disappointed with Myers production during the current season. He is only batting .227 with five home runs and 25 RBI in 198 at bats.

Moving forward I believe Davis will continue his dominance over the next few years coming out of the bullpen as a solid setup man.

There is uncertainty to whether or not Shields will re-sign with the team making it crucial that the Royals reach their goal of making the playoffs this season.

The Royals come into this three game set with a 45-42 record, which trails Detroit by four games in the American League Central. Tampa Bay is currently in fourth place in the American League East with a record of 41-50.

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