Matt Shoemaker: 2014 Angels Year in Review


Coming into 2014 we had no idea what to expect from right-hander Matt Shoemaker. He pitched five innings at the major league level in 2013, so would have all of his rookie status in 2014. Man, did he use every bit of rookie status he had to shock the American League. The 27 year old out of Michigan was signed as an amatuer free agent in 2008 by the Angels, and finished second this week in The Sporting News Rookie of the Year voting. Without further ado, here is how Shoemaker’s rookie season went.

The Good: Shoemaker was deceptive enough to get a lot of strikeouts. No one had seen him before but even when teams saw him for the second and third time, he was still able to get outs without giving up big innings. He struck out just over eight per nine innings and when you can do that you take all of the luck out of pitching. They call them the three true outcomes. Home run, walk and strikeout. Shoemaker struck out a lot of hitters, he didn’t walk many, but he did give up 14 home runs and I will talk about that more in depth very soon.

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He started the season in the bullpen moved to the rotation and then made that switch once more. The best thing for any starting pitcher is when the team wins when you start the game. It doesn’t matter if they earn the win or not, but if they keep the team in the game long enough for them to score enough runs and win the game. The Angels scored the most runs in baseball, so eventually they were going to put up some runs on their opponents, the pitcher just had to keep it close. Shoemaker did just that.

The end of the season was when Shoemaker really made his money. He was 6-0 in his last seven starts. He allowed seven runs total in those seven starts and struck out 37 to seven walks. Yeah, that is a lot of sevens. He held opponents to a .186 batting average and .233 on-base percentage in those starts. I’m not a big fan of the term momentum in baseball because you play everyday and it switches multiple times per game, but if I were going to use it, this would be the time. Shoemaker can use the end of his season for motivation into next season. Things are just beginning for Matt Shoemaker.

The Bad: I spoke of it briefly above, but the one thing that sticks out about Shoemaker’s season is the amount of long balls he allowed. Seven of them were in low leverage and nine were solo shots. Solo home runs won’t kill you and Shoemaker showed that in 2014. The one thing Shoemaker can take from this experience is to not fall behind in the count. All of the home runs he allowed were either with an even count or when he was behind. He didn’t allow a homer when ahead 0-1, 0-2, or 1-2.

Other than that issue, everything was really good for Shoemaker in his rookie campaign. He got to drink champagne after winning a division title and experience heartbreak at the major league level. Now he will come back in 2015 stronger and more mature. That is going to be scary for opposing hitters.

The Future: Shoemaker doesn’t become a free agent until 2020, so he should be an Angel for a very long time unless he ends up in a trade along the way. He will regress some next season which is expected but should throw more innings. I don’t think he will get to the 200 inning mark, but 180 is reasonable after just 136 this season.

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If he can lower the home run totals and keep both him strikeouts and walks relative to where they are, he will be dominant. With big ballparks all throughout the division there is no reason why we shouldn’t see his home runs total fall next season after having a full season under his belt. It will an exciting season to watch him pitch in 2015.

Next: Matt Shoemaker 2nd in Sporting News Rookie of the Year

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