WDAE’s drive-time show host Steve Duemig has a Facebook page for fans to talk sports in the Tampa Bay area.

Looking at his Facebook page, there are many vociferous Joe Maddon critics that post about the Rays manager’s decisions in a game.

This has been going on for the last few years. Many people think Maddon tends to outsmart himself by fielding different lineups or using different relievers to get an out.

After a Rays loss, Duemig’s Facebook page can be comic relief. It is interesting to hear what those armchair quarterbacks would do in a game. Some of them are so off-the-wall that it is not even funny.

Maddon gave another reason for those critics to rip him. He announced James Shields will start Game 2 against the Rangers on Thursday afternoon.

This is easy to second-guess here. Shields did not have a good season. It is surprising that he is starting, let alone that he is on the postseason roster.

He has not earned the right to go pitch in this round. It is interesting Jeff Niemann is not even starting in this series. As much as he struggled since being activated from the disabled list, Niemann at least gives the team a better chance to win than Shields.

The Rays were better off either starting Wade Davis or Matt Garza in Game 2. Jeremy Hellickson was not an option to start because the Rays felt he would be better off being the first guy out of the bullpen if one of the starters struggles in the first round.

Davis would have been this writer’s pick to start Game 2. He is the second best starter on the team at this point. The Rays can expect quality performance out of him in a start like this.

Maddon did not think that way. He figured experience counts for something. Davis does not have that, but that is overrated. We have seen experienced pitchers bomb in the postseason. It comes down to whether the guy has the stuff and the guile to get hitters out.

Does anyone trust Shields in this spot? The longtime Rays starter showed he can pitch well against great teams. He demonstrated that twice against the Yankees this year, but the Yankees also hit him well in several starts.

It is hard to think a starter can go turn it on now that he is pitching in October. If a starter consistently pitches awful for most of the year, it is hard to get that stuff back all the time.

With Shields, he has been thinking too much. It appears he expects to fail when he is out on the mound. He is not demonstrating the confidence factor anymore.

He wants everything to be done right. It has to be perfect. If he is not in a jam, he can get into a groove. Once he makes a mistake or two, it becomes a big inning where he implodes.

This is not what a team wants to see out of a starter in October. That is asking for a trouble.

The Rangers feast on pitchers who have command problems. That was the case for Shields in a start against the Rangers on June 5th. In that start, he gave up six runs (three earned) and 10 hits in seven innings.

To be fair to Shields, he allowed two runs on four hits in seven innings against the Rangers on August 18th. This took place at Tropicana Field, so Maddon hopes his starter can duplicate that in Game 2. Problem is that it is hard to do it.

Maddon can talk about how Shields does fine at the Trop, but giving up 111 hits, 14 home runs, and 53 runs at home does not strike anyone as a confidence builder. He had bad outings over there too, so the difference of home and road splits mean nothing.

On Friday night, Shields was coming off a lousy start against the Royals, who will not be confused with the Big Red Machine. He gave up 12 hits and seven runs in that start. This is not the way to fine-tune for a postseason start or convince a manager to start him.

This is a surprise to see him start days after a bad start. This is a starter who went 0-4 with a 7.59 ERA in his last six starts. This is a starter who leads the league in most home runs, runs and earned runs.

When Ron Washington and the Rangers found out about this news, they had to be giggling among themselves. If the Rangers can win Game 1, they could be in a position to win the series at home in either Game 3 or 4. They have the edge in the starting pitching matchup between C.J. Wilson and Shields.

Wilson can be counted on to pitch a great game. His wins and his command speak for themselves. Shields cannot say that.

It will be interesting how Maddon proceeds in using his struggling starter in this game. Will Shields go five innings only? Can Maddon muster relievers to pitch through the middle innings before he can give it to Joaquin Benoit and Rafael Soriano?

If Shields can somehow pitch six good innings, it will be a victory in itself for him and the Rays. Maybe the Rays can get by with a so-so start out of him. That would be the best scenario, but who knows if Shields has it in him?

Maddon is hoping his gut will pay off here. He is banking on Shields to show his savvy here.

One thing’s for sure: If it does not work out, Duemig’s Facebook page will be a must read.

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