Results tagged ‘ Matt Shoemaker ’

Some Spring Training reading material …

garrett_richards_stills7Pitchers and catchers report for their physicals on Thursday, and with that a new season officially begins. Physicals take place away from the Tempe Diablo Stadium complex, so “report day” isn’t quite as eventful for the Angels as it is for other teams. But some players will trickle in, and Mike Scisocia will speak with the media later in the afternoon, shortly after meeting with his coaching staff.

Before all the madness begins, I thought I’d do my best to help you get caught up. Below is a list of previews, features and blog post from the offseason that you might have missed and are still timely with the start of Spring Training upon us.

You can see an updated 40-man roster here, a depth chart of where those 40 players fit in here, a list of non-roster invitees here, the Top 20 Prospects here and injury updates here. No changes were made to the coaching staff, but Tim Bogar was added to the front office and a variety of changes were made to the Minor League development staffs, with Keith Johnson reassigned and Dave Anderson, Johnny Narron and Pepperdine University product Chad Tracy among those hired.

Spring Training preview series

A look at players on the rebound
Examining the new faces
Prospects to watch
Angels are better for the future, but are they better in the present?
Projecting the lineup, rotation, ‘pen
Three big questions

Around The Horn

Catcher
Middle infield
Corner infield
Outfield
Rotation
Bullpen

Features

Pre-Spring Training Inbox
Story and video on Garrett Richards‘ recovery
On Matt Shoemaker‘s against-all-odds journey to the Rookie of the Year race
Chance to strengthen right leg has Albert Pujols excited
Jered Weaver has bulked up, wants to pitch deeper
Coaches believe Mike Trout can cut down on his strikeouts
Can Josh Hamilton bounce back?
Tyler Skaggs ‘bittersweet’ about start of Spring Training
Depth charts are at the heart of Angels’ strategy
An inside look at the pursuit of Roberto Baldoquin
How Andrew Heaney became the guy the Angels couldn’t pass up
Finally some representation in MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects

Blogs

The Angels finally have some payroll flexibility
A look at how the Angels would look without Josh
Will Jerry Dipoto dabble in next winter’s premier class of FA starters?
Examining a tougher AL West
Talent on the Triple-A affiliate is on the rise
When will the Angels get their first Hall of Famer?
Video highlights of Trout’s best moments from the 2014 season

Alden

The Angels and next winter’s free-agent starters …

David PriceBarring a drastic, last-minute change in strategy, the Angels will not pursue James Shields, just like they didn’t pursue Max Scherzer and they didn’t pursue Jon Lester. They bowed out of the free-agent market for starting pitchers this winter — the free-agent market in general, actually — because they already have a top-heavy payroll and they didn’t deem another splurge practical.

What about next winter?

The next free-agent crop of starters is a doozy. David Price, Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, Jeff Samardzija, Hisashi Iwakuma, Mat Latos and Doug Fister are all slated to headline one of the deepest groups we’ve ever seen. Will the Angels be a player in that market, with David Freese, Chris Iannetta, Matt Joyce and Huston Street all in line to come off the books? (They’d like to extend Street.)

Maybe — but probably not.

“I wouldn’t say no, and at this point I wouldn’t say yes,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said when asked about going after the top starters in next year’s market. “One of the things we like a lot about the way the team is currently built is the level of depth we have among starting pitchers. While we do have the potential departure of some free agents, we’re looking at a projected payroll number next year that’s similar to the one we’re operating at now.”

It’s true. Despite the potential departures, Mike Trout‘s salary will go from $6.08 million to $16.08 million; Josh Hamilton‘s will go from $25.4 million to $32.4 million; incremental jumps will come for Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver; and natural arbitration hikes will follow.

The Angels’ projected Opening Day payroll is $145 million for 2015, third-highest in team history but $9 million smaller than last year (which means there’s room for in-season upgrades). For 2016, their Competitive Balance Tax payroll (which takes the average annual value of all 40-man-roster contracts, plus benefits and bonuses, and is used by Major League Baseball to determine which teams exceed the $189 million tax threshold) is already almost $120 million for just seven players

More importantly, the Angels will have every current starter back — Weaver, Wilson, Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker, Hector Santiago, Nick Tropeano and Andrew Heaney — plus Tyler Skaggs, who should be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery.

But Weaver and Wilson will be heading into the final year before free agency. And look at what the Nationals just did. They didn’t need starting pitching, but they signed Scherzer because he was available now and because Zimmermann and Fister will be free agents at season’s end. Now they can comfortably trade Zimmermann or Fister (or perhaps Stephen Strasburg), or hold onto all of them and have the ultimate rotation, 2011 Phillies style.

Can the Angels do something similar?

I wouldn’t rule it out, but I also wouldn’t count on it.

“While I won’t say we have expectation that most or any of [the Angels’ starters] are going to be the quality of David Price, understanding that we need to continue to grow the foundation, at some point you have to provide those guys with the innings to grow,” Dipoto said. “Next year, we’re looking at the same group of starting pitchers; we won’t lose control of anyone. We like our group and like their upside.”

Alden

Where the Angels are and where they might be …

Howie KendrickThere’s a lot to take in from the Winter Meetings, and though the Angels’ moves weren’t among the most eventful in the just-completed four-day stint in San Diego, they were active nonetheless. Jerry Dipoto acquired a left-handed bat, a backup catcher and a couple of utility infielders, and most notably, he traded the Angels’ longtime second baseman for one of baseball’s best pitching prospects.

Some of you have asked for my take, but I think it’s best to reserve judgment, because more than two months remain until Spring Training and there’s a good chance — though Dipoto has stressed how much he likes his roster as it stands — that the Angels aren’t done.

What will they do next? I don’t know. And Dipoto may not be so sure, either. I don’t think he was actively shopping Howie Kendrick; using Hank Conger to acquire Nick Tropeano in early November negated the need to part ways with a position player to acquire cost-controlled starting pitching. I think he was planning on going into Spring Training with his roster mostly intact (plus a utility infielder or two), then came the opportunity to use Kendrick to acquire Andrew Heaney and he simply couldn’t walk away from it.

Now he has plenty of starting-pitching depth (Jered Weaver, Garrett Richards, C.J. Wilson, Matt Shoemaker, Hector Santiago, Heaney, Tropeano, Jose Alvarez, Alex Sanabia, Drew Rucinski project to make up the Major League and Triple-A rotations, with Tyler Skaggs back in 2016) and is roughly $15 million below the luxury-tax threshold. It’s a flexibility Dipoto didn’t foresee having, and now he’s open to where that takes him the rest of the winter.

Maybe he uses that payroll flexibility, or even that pitching depth, to get a middle-of-the-order bat.

Maybe he does nothing.

We don’t know what will happen. All we have to go on is what did happen. Below is a list of 40-man-roster players added and given up by the Angels thus far, listed with their projected cost and the cumulative amount of years they’re controllable for.

Players lost

Howie Kendrick
Hank Conger
Jairo Diaz
Mark Sappington

Projected cost: $11.6M
Years of control: 16

Players gained

Andrew Heaney
Nick Tropeano
Josh Rutledge
Cesar Ramos
Jeremy McBryde
Marc Krauss
Drew Butera
Carlos Perez
Taylor Featherston
Daniel Robertson

Projected cost: $6.2M
Years of control: 49

Marlins Phillies BaseballYou can make two definitive statements from these moves, takeaways that really came to light with the attention-grabbing moves made late Wednesday night

1. The Angels are better long-term, and really, that’s the whole point here. When you’re a team with so much money tied to aging players like Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Weaver and Wilson, and want to stay below the luxury-tax threshold, it’s crucial to accrue players on the other side of the roster. The Angels had that, with Mike Trout (granted, now also expensive), Kole Calhoun, Mike Morin, Richards, Shoemaker and Santiago producing in the early stages of their prime last year. And now they have a lot of Major League-ready pitching depth, for the rotation and the bullpen.

2. The Angels are worse short-term, though Dipoto may argue that. Shrewd as it was to flip one year of control with Kendrick for six years of control with Heaney, there’s no discounting how difficult it will be for the Angels to make up for Kendrick’s contributions offensively and defensively. Heaney, the 18th-best prospect in baseball, has a bright future, but he hasn’t proven anything yet, and it remains to be seen if either he or Tropeano will be any better than Santiago in 2015 (the three will compete for the last spot of the rotation).

This is the Dipoto quote that summed up Wednesday’s trade best …

The goal is to figure out how to get younger, better, more cost-effective, put yourself in a situation where you can sustain winning. It’s not to get a bunch of guys that everybody has heard of all the time and run them out there and let it flame out. We’re trying to find a way to turn a veteran roster into a veteran roster that can compete now with the elements that are young and can continue to sustain moving forward. The heaviest criticism of the Angels over the last 10 years are that we’re getting older, or that we’re in a short window to win. I think we’re more sustainable than that.

But it’s all about winning the World Series. And while it’s volatile to continually spend in the free-agent market and disregard the importance of controllable, optionable assets, winning the World Series is all that matters to Arte Moreno.

What makes Dipoto so great is that he’s a visionary, is always a few steps ahead and perpetually keeps a keen eye towards the future.

But can he have the best of both worlds?

Can he have a team that’s set up to remain competitive for a long stretch of time without at least somewhat mortgaging immediate championship hopes, particularly with an Angels team that’s coming off a 98-win season and may currently look just a tad worse on the Major League side?

That’s what I’m wondering.

Alden

‘All hands on deck’ for the Angels tonight …

C.J. WilsonGame 3 is a big start for C.J. Wilson, which may make you a little uncomfortable considering how his season has gone (4.51 ERA, 4.4 walk rate) and who his opponent is (Royals ace James Shields).

But keep this in mind: Mike Scioscia is not going to let Wilson be the reason the Angels are eliminated.

In other words, his leash will be very short.

Teams rarely carry a 12-man pitching staff in the five-game American League Division Series, but Scioscia felt he needed to because his rotation was such a big question mark heading into it. The fact he’s received good starts out of Jered Weaver and Matt Shoemaker means No. 4 starter Hector Santiago and long reliever Cory Rasmus are very fresh. Rasmus can go up to four innings, Santiago can throw 100-plus pitches. And at the first hint of trouble, Scioscia will no doubt go to them tonight.

“If it comes to a point where it obviously looks like he’s not getting it done, we’ll make a decision and try to get an arm in there to get us out of a jam if need be,” Scioscia said. “We’ll see. We don’t have a crystal ball for what’s going to happen, but I think we’ve all been very clear on what we’re looking for in this game, and it won’t be a game where your starting pitcher is into the second, third inning really struggling and it’s April and you’re going to let him work through some things. That’s not the time for that tactic right now.”

Some other highlights from Scioscia’s pregame press conference (lineup here) …

  • Josh Hamilton is in the lineup, as expected. Asked about it again on Sunday, Scioscia said Hamilton’s defensive presence is important, too.: “He’s important, especially on a big field like at our ballpark and here. He has a presence out there, and that’s important. On the offensive side, I think that it’s definitely worth getting him the at‑bats to see if he’s going to find it because when he does find it, he’s a difference maker. Josh is helping us to win games, even though maybe it’s not happened in the batter’s box, and there’s a lot of focus on that.”
  • Mike Trout is also struggling. He’s 0-for-8 with a couple of walks, and hasn’t really hit the ball hard yet. But Scioscia doesn’t believe Trout is “pressing,” saying: “There’s certainly some pitches that he’s put some good swings on and missed, and there’s some pitches that he’s taken that maybe he gets a little bit passive. He’s caught in between a little bit. Those guys have done a good job pitching against him, but I really don’t see him as tight. I just think sometimes you’re not squaring balls up like you can.”
  • The current Royals look like the Angels teams Scioscia used to manage. They don’t have a lot of power, but they also don’t strike out a lot and they’re a big threat to steal bases. The Angels are the opposite. “This is definitely the team we’ve had that is most structured in batter’s box offense and built on batter’s box offense in the 15 years we’ve been here,” Scioscia said. “It doesn’t mean the offense is worse or better. We’ve scored a lot of runs with batter’s box offense this year. … The cards that you have in front of you are the ones you’re going to play, and we’re very confident in our offense. Even though maybe the straight steal isn’t there, we do have enough team speed where we led our league in first-to-thirds. I think we create a lot on the bases that scored runs with outs, and that all adds up to the type of offense that we have.”

Alden

Shoemaker to start Game 2; Weaver on short rest …

The Angels will go with a three-man rotation for their American League Division Series matchup against the Royals, with Matt Shoemaker starting Game 2, C.J. Wilson starting Game 3 and Game 1 starter Jered Weaver coming back on short rest to start Game 4.

The setup, announced by Angels manager Mike Scioscia during a pre-workout press conference on Wednesday, gives Weaver and Shoemaker the potential to pitch twice in the five-game series. Hector Santiago, with a 3.75 ERA but a walk rate of 3.7, will be available out of the bullpen. Wilson, coming off a season in which he posted a 4.51 ERA, will only start one game.

Scioscia also announced that Josh Hamilton will start in left field and bat seventh in Game 1, after playing only one of the Angels’ last 23 games due to pain around his right shoulder and ribcage. Right-handed hitter C.J. Cron will start at designated hitter against lefty Jason Vargas, and Scioscia will have a 12-man pitching staff.

Shoemaker, who won 16 games and posted a 3.04 ERA in a surprising rookie season, has been rehabbing from a mild strain in his left oblique, but threw bullpen sessions on Sunday and Tuesday and is “doing remarkably well,” Scioscia said.

“We’re expecting Matt to be fine and pitch as deep as he can into the game,” Scioscia said. “That is one consideration. The other is we really like the matchups. We like the way Matt has been pitching, and I think Weaver getting out in Game 1, followed with Matt, gives us the best look here in the first couple games. C.J. will pitch in Kansas City [on Sunday].”

Weaver has started on three days’ rest only twice before, both times in 2011, when he gave up seven runs in six innings on Aug. 28 and two runs in six innings on Sept. 18. But his last three starts, including the ALDS opener on Thursday, will come on six days’ rest, five days’ rest and five days’ rest, respectively.

The Dodgers pitched ace Clayton Kershaw on short rest for the National League Division Series last year.

“[Pitching coach] Mike Butcher feels really good at the prospects of how Weaver was throwing his ‘pens in between starts, how he was bouncing back, and really feeling that if he had to pitch at all on three days’ rest, he’s ready for it,” Scioscia said. “Most importantly, our medical staff feels really good at where Jered is, and Jered feels 100 percent behind the fact of coming back on three days and being effective. That’s what we’ll look at doing, and we don’t have any reservations at all about wanting to get Jered out there again in Game 4.”

Alden

Shoemaker is ready; can he start Game 2? …

Matt Shoemaker said after Tuesday’s bullpen session that he has “no doubt” he’ll be available to start for the Angels in the American League Division Series – and don’t rule him out for Game 2, either.

Starting Game 2, after ace Jered Weaver, would allow Shoemaker to also pitch in a potential Game 5 and would mean C.J. Wilson starts only once, after his worst regular season as a starter. Shoemaker threw his second bullpen sessions in three days during the team’s first mandatory workout from Angel Stadium, and came out of it with no pain in the left oblique that has put him on a rehab program for the last two weeks.

“Everything felt great,” Shoemaker said. “I’d say great, but it felt normal, which is great.”

Shoemaker threw an estimated 40 pitches, with a break in the middle to simulate the time between innings in a game, and didn’t feel the slight tightness that was still present when he got off the mound from Safeco Field on Sunday.

“A few days ago, it was a little tight,” Shoemaker said. “Now, I don’t feel it at all.”

The 27-year-old rookie is coming off a surprising, breakout season that saw him go 16-4 with a 3.04 ERA and a 5.17 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Mike Scioscia won’t reveal his rotation after Weaver until Wednesday, and he has Wilson lined up to pitch Game 2 on five days’ rest.

But Shoemaker would be their ideal choice if he’s ready. And the fact he only missed two turns through the rotation means he may still have his normal length.

“I haven’t thrown 100 pitches yet, but I definitely feel I’m capable, for sure,” Shoemaker said. “Just the way my arm feels, my body feels, definitely feels doable.”

The Angels, it seems, dodged a bullet with Shoemaker.

His left side grabbed on him in the eighth inning of yet another brilliant start against the Mariners, the day the Angels became the first team to clinch a spot in the postseason, and Scioscia feared the worst. But a next-day MRI revealed what Shoemaker said was a “very mild” strain, and he’s been making steady progress every day since.

“It’s definitely a pleasant surprise,” Shoemaker said. “But also, going in when it happened, the very positive thing, that was a blessing, was that it was just mild. It wasn’t anything more than that. Given its mild state, we were able to heal and knock it off really quick, which I’m definitely really happy with.”

Alden

Angels’ 2014 regular season, by the numbers

Mike Trout

The Angels’ regular season ended on Sunday, and now all that stands before the postseason are an off day and a couple of mandatory workouts from Angel Stadium. Rosters are due by Thursday morning, and before then, Matt Shoemaker (left oblique) is expected to get off a mound at least one more time and Josh Hamilton (right chest/ribcage) will have to see some velocity (latest here). Before all the ALDS madness ensues, let’s take a numerical look back at the 162-game grind. And before we get into the objective, here’s a little bit of the subjective …

Award Candidates

MVP: Mike Trout
Gold Glove: Erick Aybar (SS), Albert Pujols (1B), C.J. Wilson (P), Kole Calhoun (RF)
Silver Slugger: Trout, Aybar
Rookie: Matt Shoemaker
Comeback Player: Pujols
Rolaids Relief: Huston Street
Executive: Jerry Dipoto
Manager: Mike Scioscia

Trout looks like almost a lock to nab the AL MVP Award, but Shoemaker probably doesn’t stand a chance to win AL Rookie of the Year over Jose Abreu. I can’t really think of a better candidate for Comeback Player of the Year than Pujols, and there’s a good chance Dipoto or Scioscia — not both — win their respective awards. I’d lean towards Dipoto, since Buck Showalter seems to be a popular pick for top AL manager (keep in mind there’s only one Executive of the Year Award, not one per league). Of the Gold Glove list, Pujols seems like the most likely to get one. Aybar had a great year at shortstop, but so did J.J. Hardy and Alexei Ramirez. Trout is a lock for his third straight Silver Slugger. Street has had a great year, but he split it within two leagues, so he’s a long shot for the Rolaids Relief Man Award.

American League Top 10s

BA: Howie Kendrick (10, .293)
OBP: Trout (T7, .377)
SLG: Trout (3, .561)
HR: Trout (T3, 36)
RBI: Trout (1, 111); Pujols (5, 105)
BB: Trout (4, 83)
SO: Trout (1, 184)
fWAR: Trout (1, 8.1)
FanGraphs defense: Aybar (T8, 14.0)
ERA: Garrett Richards (5, 2.61)
W: Jered Weaver (T1, 18); Shoemaker (T4, 16)
IP: Weaver (9, 213 1/3)
WHIP: Richards (3, 1.04)
BB: Wilson (1, 85)

MLB Team Rankings

WPCT: 1, .605
R/DIFF: 2, 143
fWAR: 2, 30.3
R: 1, 773
OPS: 7, .728
SP ERA: 13, 3.62
RP WHIP: 8, 1.22
FLG%: T3, .986
DRS: 20, -16

Angels fWAR Standings

Trout: 8.1
Kendrick: 4.4
Richards: 4.3
Aybar: 4.0
Calhoun: 3.6
Pujols: 3.2
Chris Iannetta: 3.0
David Freese: 2.2
Shoemaker: 2.1
Collin Cowgill: 2.1
Weaver: 1.5
Tyler Skaggs: 1.5
Hamilton: 1.1
Joe Smith: 1.0

Top 10 Prospects

LH Sean Newcomb (Rk, A): 6.14 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 3.0 SO/BB, 14 2/3 IP
RH Joe Gatto (Rk): 5.33 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 1.78 SO/BB, 27 IP
RH Chris Ellis (Rk): 6.89 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 2.00 SO/BB, 15 2/3 IP
3B Kaleb Cowart (AA): .223/.295/.324, 6 HR, 54 RBI, 26 SB (stopped switch-hitting during season)
RH Cam Bedrosian: 6.52 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, 1.67 SO/BB, 19 1/3 IP (MLB); 2.00 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 4.56 SO/BB, 45 IP (A+, AA, AAA)
LH Hunter Green: did not pitch
LH Ricardo Sanchez (Rk): 3.49 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 1.95 SO/BB, 38 2/3 IP
2B Alex Yarbrough (AA): .285/.321/.397, 5 HR, 77 RBI, 6 SB
RH Mark Sappington (A+, AA): 6.02 ERA, 1.79 WHIP, 1.44 SO/BB, 113 2/3 IP (moved to bullpen during season)
RH Jeremy Rhoades (Rk): 4.42 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 2.67 SO/BB, 38 2/3 IP

Team Records Set

Most strikeouts by a player: Trout tied Mark Trumbo (184 in 2013)
Most wins by a rookie: Shoemaker, 16 (previously 14 by Dean Chance, Marcelino Lopez and Frank Tanana)
Scoreless appearances in a season: Smith (67) and Kevin Jepsen (65), topping Francisco Rodriguez (63 in ’08)
Pitchers used: 31 (previously 29 in 1996)
Fewest errors: 83 (previously 85 in ’09, for a non-strike season)
Strikeouts by a pithing staff: 1,342 (previously 1,200 in 2013)

Some other interesting tidbits …

  • Second time in club history that they finish the regular season with the best record and lock up home-field advantage throughout the postseason (also 2008).
  • 98 wins is the third-most in club history, two shy of the club record set in ’08.
  • The Angels went an entire season without being shutout on the road.
  • Angels drew 3 million fans at home for the 12th consecutive season, a streak only matched in the AL by the Yankees. Their average attendance (38,221) was the highest since 2011.
  • Pujols led the Majors with 33 go-ahead RBIs, finishing one shy of the club record (34, by Vladimir Guerrero in ’06).
  • Trout became just the second RBI champion in team history (also Don Baylor, with 139 during his MVP season in 1979).
  • Trout is the first player in Major League history to lead either league in runs scored in his first three full seasons (115 in 2014). The last player to do that at any age was Mickey Mantle (1956-58).
  • Since 2011, Street has converted 126 of 136 save opportunities (93 percent), which is the best mark over that span (minimum: 50 innings).
  • Pujols is the 16th player with 2,500 hits, 1,500 runs and 500 homers, all marks he accomplished this season. The only others to do it by their age-34 season are Jimmie Foxx, Hank Aaron and Alex Rodriguez.
  • Trout is the first player since 1901 with 100 career steals and 90-plus career homers by his age-22-or-younger season.
  • All eight of the Angels’ everyday position players finished with an OPS+ over 100. Only the 1973 Orioles, ’09 Angels and ’13 Red Sox had more.
  • John McDonald turned 40 on Wednesday, and hit an RBI double in what could’ve been his final Major League at-bat. If it is the end, hats off to a great career by a truly great person.

Alden

Big days for Shoemaker and Hamilton …

Matt Shoemaker threw a 30- to 40-pitch bullpen session from Safeco Field on Sunday morning and feels “very” confident he can start for the Angels in the American League Division Series, barring an unforeseen setback.

Josh Hamilton spent the regular-season finale taking swings off a tee, then threw long toss, did some running exercises and tracked pitches during Shoemaker’s bullpen session, but will need to push it harder on Monday and Tuesday before knowing if he can play in the first round, which kicks off Thursday.

Hamilton, who will finish the season playing in just one of the Angels’ last 22 games, didn’t feel the “spasm” around his right chest/ribcage that occurred when he hit off a tee earlier in the week, a sensation that made it difficult for him to even breathe. But he finished his swing with two hands on the bat, which he never does in games.

“I’m going to have to just swing,” Hamilton said. “I can’t be over here trying to remind myself every time I swing to just swing with two hands. So, tomorrow will be another big day.”

Hamilton is slated to take batting practice on the field at Angel Stadium on Monday and Tuesday, and see some live pitching at some point before ALDS rosters are due on Thursday morning. Throwing is no longer an issue, his back no longer bothers him when he runs, and the pain he felt while swinging on Sunday was tolerable.

“The pain isn’t the issue; it’s the spasm part of it,” said Hamilton, who took four days off from striking a baseball because of those spasms. “As long as I can play and not spasm, I’ll be fine. That means I have to get after it the next couple of days, push it a little bit, because I can’t baby it, then get in the game Thursday and it happens.”

Shoemaker, rehabbing from a mild strain in his left oblique since Sept. 15, played catch for six straight days leading up to his first bullpen, gradually ramping up the intensity and the distance until taking part in an unrestricted long-toss session on Saturday.

The 27-year-old rookie threw all his pitches Sunday, finished throwing at full intensity and felt only “a touch” of tightness, which diminishes with each passing day.

“Hopefully in a couple days, I won’t even feel it all,” Shoemaker said. “I think that’s a big possibility.”

The next step for Shoemaker is to face hitters at Angel Stadium on Tuesday or Wednesday, then start either Game 2 or 3 of the ALDS. Asked if he’s confident he’ll start in the ALDS, Shoemaker said, “Very much.”

“Each day has felt better,” he added. “This is the first time we got full intensity off the mound. We’ll find out more tomorrow.”

Alden

What Wednesday meant to the Angels’ postseason

Hector SantiagoThe American League Division Series kicks off from Angel Stadium next Thursday, Oct. 2. Between now and then are eight days, three regular-season games and a couple of workouts in Anaheim, at which point Josh Hamilton (right ribcage) will hope to see some live pitching and Matt Shoemaker (left oblique) will hope to get off the mound. Who knows; maybe they’ll even face each other!

At any rate, games aren’t necessarily about wins and losses anymore — they’re about looking ahead to October.

With that in mind, here are some takeaways from Wednesday’s 5-4 win over the A’s

Hector Santiago: Mike Scioscia wouldn’t commit to Santiago getting a start in the ALDS postgame, but he provided some encouraging signs while throwing 5 1/3 scoreless innings after recording a combined nine outs in his previous two starts. The problem with Santiago — and C.J. Wilson, for that matter — is that you’re still not quite sure what you’ll get from start to start. But he did finish the year with a 3.81 ERA, and he did post a 2.71 ERA from June 10 to Sept. 9. That’s a very solid three-month stretch.

Howie Kendrick: Scioscia is committed to Kendrick batting cleanup, at least to start the ALDS. Part of it has to do with Hamilton not seeing much live pitching, and part of it has to do with how well Kendrick has hit there while Hamilton has been out. The veteran second baseman had a couple of key two-out hits on Wednesday and is now batting .403 (27-for-67) with 18 RBIs in 18 games behind Albert Pujols.

Joe Thatcher: It remains to be seen whether the Angels will carry their veteran lefty specialist on the postseason roster. Thatcher has a 3.41 ERA on the year, but lefties are batting .300 against him this year and the 32-year-old is still affected by the left ankle sprain that forced him to miss more than seven weeks. Said Scioscia: “I don’t think we’re seeing him at his best yet, but he’s going to get the ball, and hopefully he’ll make some pitches. He looked a little more crisp today.”

Vinnie Pestano: I didn’t list him as a candidate, but perhaps there’s a spot for the 29-year-old sidearmer, who recorded the last two outs of the sixth inning and has allowed just one run while striking out 13 batters in 9 1/3 innings with the Angels.

Gordon Beckham: He started at shortstop, ahead of the birthday boy, and has now made five appearances there this month. Beckham came in as a solid defensive second baseman and has played well at third base, and Scioscia clearly wants to give him some reps at shortstop for his forthcoming role as the Angels’ utility player in the ALDS.

Alden

Narrowing down the Angels’ postseason roster …

The Angels have a lot of questions to sort through before their postseason roster must be submitted to Major League Baseball on the morning of Oct. 2, must prominent of which is the health of Josh Hamilton and Matt Shoemaker. Assuming Hamilton and Shoemaker are healthy (-ish), here’s a look at the players I deem locks to crack Mike Scioscia‘s ALDS roster …

Starting lineup

Chris Iannetta
Albert Pujols
Howie Kendrick
David Freese
Erick Aybar
Hamilton
Mike Trout
Kole Calhoun

Starting rotation

Jered Weaver
C.J. Wilson
Shoemaker
Hector Santiago

Relievers

Huston Street
Joe Smith
Kevin Jepsen
Jason Grilli
Fernando Salas
Mike Morin

Reserves

Hank Conger
Gordon Beckham
Collin Cowgill

That’s 21 of 25 spots. Now here’s a look at the guys who are perceivably on the bubble (again, just my educated guess here) …

SS/3B/2B John McDonald: The 39-year-old has had a very set role all year, as a late-game defensive replacement for Freese at third base, but it would be tough to carry him given the fact Beckham — acquired with the playoffs in mind — can essentially fill the same role.

DH/LF/RF Brennan Boesch: The power left-handed hitter has started 10 games in September, and entered Monday with six hits (and two homers) in his last 16 at-bats. Scioscia clearly likes playing him, but not in the field, and he may have to if Hamilton can only DH.

1B/LF/RF Efren Navarro: He doesn’t bring as much power as Boesch, but he’s another lefty bat who has adjusted quickly to the outfield and is a very disciplined hitter.

1B/DH C.J. Cron: I expect at least one of Boesch or Navarro to make the team, and I’d be shocked if Cron didn’t make it as a right-handed power bat who can start (or pinch-hit) against a lefty.

CF/LF/RF Tony Campana: Campana can play a very particular role on this team, as a Chone Figgins-esque pinch-runner. His placement on the roster could hinge greatly on whether the Angels go with a 12-man pitching staff (commonplace for the regular season) or 11-man pitching staff (commonplace for the shorter ALDS).

LH Joe Thatcher: It seemed like a given that Thatcher would crack the roster as that critical lefty specialist when the Angels traded for him in July, but he’s been slowed by an ankle injury and hasn’t fared well against lefties this year, and Scioscia has often said he won’t carry a lefty if he isn’t getting outs.

RH Cory Rasmus: The Angels have plenty of right-handed power arms in their bullpen, but Rasmus has pitched well and provides length. Who knows, maybe he even starts a playoff game.

LH Wade LeBlanc: LeBlanc doesn’t seem to have a chance at cracking the roster if Shoemaker is healthy, but what if he has another solid start on Tuesday?

Alden

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