Los Angeles Angels have had all sorts of problems with their starting rotation. Injuries and ineffectiveness, the Angels starting staff has been in shambles. Recently led by Matt Shoemaker and Nick Tropeano things are looking up.
At the beginning of the season, with the then-surplus of starting pitching the Angels had, righthander Matt Shoemaker seemed like a candidate to move into the bullpen. He came back to earth in 2015 after his stellar 2014 saw him finish second in Rookie of the Year voting. He finished 7-10 with a 4.46 ERA and a 4.59 FIP last year. He beat out Nick Tropeano for a spot in the back of the rotation, but how is he doing so far this season?
Shoemaker has, so far, been worse this season than last. He’s 3-5 with a 5.96 ERA, although his 3.97 FIP is an improvement and suggests he’ll start seeing better results soon.
In his first start of the season, it seemed like we were in for another year of 2015 Shoemaker instead of 2014 Shoemaker: He allowed six runs on seven hits, one of them a home run to Rougned Odor, and three walks in just three innings of work. He followed up that bad outing, however, by becoming 2014 Shoemaker again. He allowed just one hit in six shutout innings against Oakland. 2014 Shoemaker again prevailed in his next start against the White Sox, as he allowed just two runs on six hits over 6.1 innings, although he took a tough-luck loss. Those two runs came on solo home runs to Todd Frazier and Jose Abreu.
At this point, 2015 Shoemaker came out again. He allowed seven runs and did not make it past the third inning in back to back starts, giving up three more home runs, and was sent down to the minors on May 1. There, he made one start before being called back up due to the injury to Garrett Richards. In his first start back with the big club, he took the loss against St. Louis, allowing four runs on seven hits in four innings.
At this point, 2014 Shoemaker started to reappear. He got his second victory of the season in his next start against the Freeway Series rival Dodgers, allowing three runs over five innings and striking out five.
Shoemaker’s two most recent starts, however, are among the best of his career. Against Baltimore on May 21, he shut them out for 7.1 innings, allowing just three hits and striking out a career-high 12. He followed that up on May 27 by allowing two runs on seven hits to Houston while striking out 11 more.
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The key for Shoemaker moving forward: keep the ball in the yard. He’s allowing 1.4 home runs per nine innings even though he plays half of his games in pitcher-friendly Angel Stadium. He’s also walking 2.6 batters per nine innings, which is too many. He has 45 strikeouts in 45.1 innings, so the ability to miss bats is still there. He just needs to trust his stuff and be able to put everything together to be successful.
If he keeps the home runs down and walks fewer batters, he should start seeing more success and he’ll be a valuable member of the rotation moving forward.