Jered Weaver has been scratched from tonight’s start and replaced with long-time Angels farmhand Matt Shoemaker. Weaver has been experiencing for-arm tightness in his right arm (not a good sign). So the Angels are playing it safe. With the Angels out of the playoff picture, Shoemaker, who has logged 761 innings in the minors since 2008, gets the experience a taste of the big leagues for the first-time.
Those that follow the Angels farm system tend to have some affection towards the bearded 26 year-old right hander. In reality, there’s a lot to like and a lot to dislike about Matt Shoemaker. He hasn’t posted an ERA under 4.64 in two full years at Salt Lake Triple-A. However, he throws a lot of strikes with a nifty 5.52 strikeout-to-walk ratio this year. In over 180 innings, Shoemaker has only give 29 free passes. You know who else has a good strikeout-to-walk ratio, though? Joe Blanton. And much like Blanton, Shoemaker gives up a lot of home runs. 52 to be exact in the last two years.
That being said, the Pacific Coast League where Shoemaker has spent the last two seasons is known to inflate offensive numbers and be terrible on pitchers. And there are good things to Shoemaker as well. He offers a fastball that tops out at 94-mph and a plus splitter.
While Shoemaker isn’t the next great Angels starter, he is a feel good story that Angels fans can rally around tonight. Shoemaker went undrafted in 2008 and was eventually signed by the Los Angeles Angels. Fast forward three years later and he won pitcher of the year in the Texas League.
Now the bushy-faced boy from Michigan gets his first big league start in Anaheim against a struggling Mariners squad. The season hasn’t been good but maybe a solid performance from Shoemaker can be one of the bright spots in another dismal 2013.