Matt Shoemaker: Angels’ Ace?

Updated: March 5, 2017

If the Angels‘ season were a planet, it’s orbit would rotate around two things; health and pitching. If those factors work out in the Angels’ favor, they should contend all season long. If not, it’s going to be another long season.

This weekend, the Halos’ three most important pitchers tow the mound, starting with Matt Shoemaker on Friday. It’s not an exaggeration to say a lot of the Angels’ hopes lie on the arms of Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs, and Garrett Richards. If those three pitchers stay healthy all season and pitch to their potential, it’ll be a fun season in Anaheim, if not…well, read above.

Last season, Matt Shoemaker was arguably the Angels’ non-Trout MVP. As bad as things were with the pitching staff, imagine how bad they would have been if not for Shoemaker turning his season around after being demoted?

Shoemaker finished with a 3.88 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 160 innings, and Shoemaker really stepped up his game when the Halos needed it most. This season, the Angels are going to need an ace to step up and be that go-to guy, and most people assume it will be Richards. I’m here to say that, while Richards will post a fine season, Shoemaker will be the one who steps up to be that ace-type pitcher the team needs.

The Angels may finally have some substantial depth in their staff, a welcome situation after last season, and if more than one pitcher steps up to be great, then the Angels really have something cooking.

There are some warning signs though, such as the questionable health of all three pitchers. That alone is substantial enough for concern. Shoemaker also allowed two runs on a home run yesterday, and home runs have been a problem for Shoemaker when things are going wrong.

Shoemaker’s splitter is his best pitch, but if he’s not commanding it, he can get into trouble with the long ball. Take those results with a grain of salt, however, as it was his first time facing live batters in six month, and even Shoemaker admitted to a few nerves.

“I was overthrowing every pitch, fastball, breaking ball, didn’t matter,” Shoemaker said, “I finally took a breath and tried to calm down a little bit.” Once Shoemaker gets some innings under his belt, he should start to string together some quality outings and get into game shape for the season, a season that could pay huge dividends for both Shoemaker and the Halos.

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