LA Angels Matt Shoemaker comes back after poor start has great season.

Aug 29, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker (52) delivers a pitch against the Cincinnati Reds at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 29, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker (52) delivers a pitch against the Cincinnati Reds at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports /

LA Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker has been a pitcher that when he is on he is one of the best pitchers in the American League.  However, Shoemaker’s main issue has been consistency.  After a stellar rookie year, the last two seasons he has started slowly, then bounced back.

Matt Shoemaker started his third season with the LA Angels going 1-4 with a 9.12 ERA.  This earned him a demotion to the Ange Triple-A affiliate the Salt Lake City Bees.  However, as fate would have it, Garrett Richards would get injured a few days later and after only 12 days in the minors Shoemaker was back up with the Angels.

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“I just kind of refocused, this game is so much mental and every baseball player knows that.  If you’re here and you’re physically ready to play and if you can mentally put it together you can play pretty well,” said Shoemaker in a late August interview I did with him. “I just talked with Nags (Charles Nagy) and the other coaches and they said if you can just get that mental approach right and focus on the hitters.  You have to attack and be aggressive.”

Shoemaker seemed to get it together almost immediately upon his return from Salt Lake. In Shoemaker’s second start after his return Shoemaker beat the Los Angeles Dodgers.  He followed it up with two outstanding starts pitching 7.1 innings of shutout ball against Baltimore and then 8.1 innings against Houston to get his third win of the season.

Shoemaker continued to pitch well in June posting a 2.14 ERA over six starts, with a hard-luck 0-3 record. After the All-Star break Shoemaker got it together and had two of his best starts of the season. The first was a six-hit shutout against the Chicago White Sox.  Shoemaker followed it up with 6.2 innings giving up two runs and lowering his ERA under four for the first time since early in the season.

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In August Shoemaker continued to pitch well going 4-2 with a 3.15 ERA which lowered his overall ERA to 3.91.  Angels manager Mike Scioscia was very pleased with Shoemaker’s pitching after May 1st.

“Matt started off slow, but has pitched well overall this year and got on quite a roll in the middle of the season,” Scioscia said in a late August interview. “When we give him the ball we are confident he is going to go out there and pitch well and give us a chance to win.”

Shoemaker unfortunately had his season cut short as he was hit in the head by a Kyle Seager line drive in the right side of the head, he still was able to post a 9-13 record with an ERA of 3.91 ERA.  Shoemaker suffered a small skull fractured, but is expected to make a full recovery before next season.  This will be extremely important since the Angels will only have three other healthy starting pitchers under contract Tyler Skaggs, Ricky Nolasco, and Alex Meyer.  Garrett Richards is also hopeful of being ready in time to start next season, but that will remain to be seen.

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Shoemaker gives the most credit to his success to a higher power.

“If I do my job I can put up lot of zeroes and help keep my team in the game.  I just tried to throw strikes and get ahead of the hitters and then put them away,” said Shoemaker who has a career record of 32-27 with a 3.75 ERA. “Having that faith and trust in God has been very important. It’s tough to go through those tough stretches without having him to lean on. If good things happen great, if bad things He just gives you more drive to keep going and keep providing for your family. It just nice to know that He is there for you when you need Him.”

Shoemaker was one of the shining lights for pitching staff that was decimated by injuries this season.  One of the most important things is his ability to go deep into games.  Shoemaker went six or more innings in 19 of his 27 starts with 16 of those 19 starts being quality starts.  He finished with a flourish winning his last three starts with the exception of his last start where he was injured.

The other most impressive thing for Shoemaker is his control. In the middle of the season Shoemaker went 76.1 innings only allowing nine walks while striking out 94 batters during that same span sporting a 2.48 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP.

“I love this city and love the fans and it’s a great place to pitch,” Shoemaker said. “I hope to sign here and be here a long time.  I love this team an love the guy I’ve played with, we just got to start winning.”

Next: Ricky Nolasco earning respect with the Angels

I think most Angels fans would agree with Shoemaker in hoping he is going to be in Anaheim for a long time to come.

Overall Grade: B