Don’t feel bad if you don’t know much about Matt Shoemaker.
The Eastern Michigan product had recorded a total of 5.0 major league innings entering this season, but after throwing 136.0 innings of dominant baseball for the Angels this season, he has emerged as the second best starter on the best team in the American League’s staff.
But should he be starting what could easily be a pivotal game two?
I get it. 16-4 win-loss record. 3.04 ERA. But is he good enough to be apart of the Angels three man rotation?
For this article I compare the numbers of the Shoemaker with the Angels next best three starters, C.J Wilson, Jered Weaver, and Hector Santiago along with the Kansas City Royals best four starters, James Shields, Yordana Ventura, Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas.
C.J. Wilson is scheduled to start game three for the Angels, with Shoemaker slated to start Games 2 and 5. Manager Mike Sciosia is making the right call though. Shoemaker has a higher O-Swing percentage, a stat that tracks how often hitters chase pitches outside the zone. Of the 8 pitchers in the sample, he throws the highest percentage of first pitch strikes and has the highest percentage of swings and misses. A lot of this is because of Shoemakers slider which he throws almost 20 percent of the time. His sinker also helps him get ahead in counts. Shoemaker is not a flame thrower on the mound by any means, but he is not afraid to challenge hitters and more importantly does not walk batters. Occasionally he leaves pitches over the plate, but if he is able to get ahead he becomes far more successful.
C.J. Wilson has the lowest O-Swing percentage but has the highest groundball ratio of the group and a stellar groundball/flyball ratio. For a pitcher throwing a playoff game on the road these are crucial statistics. Wilson does not walk a lot of hitters. He is no longer the ace that he was in Texas, but his control is still excellent even though is stuff is not as good as it once was.
Wilson’s excels at keeping the baseball down and because of his array of pitches, he has emerged as a solid groundball pitcher. Kansas showed Tuesday night that it is a volatile place to play. It felt like a football game not a baseball game. I guess 29 years of waiting will do that to someone. Wilson, a veteran who has pitched in World Series games will not be phased by the moment and his ability to keep the ball down and more importantly in the park is even more augmented.
Shoemaker is still a rookie. Even though he is in the rookie of the year conversation, being a young pitcher and going into a hostile environment is not easy. He is not a groundball pitcher and if he doesn’t get ahead his statistics show that he is far more likely to fail. That’s why Sciosia is right to start him game two. Game five on the other hand is a different story.