Game 154, Mariners at Angels
Erasmo Ramirez vs. Matt Shoemaker, 7:10pm
The M’s face undrafted free-agent/MLB debutante Matt Shoemaker tonight. What could possibly go wrong?
I’m going to level with you, reader: I don’t have much to say about Matt Shoemaker. These game preview things are heavily pitch-fx-driven, for better or for worse, and that’s simply unavailable here. Shoemaker’s obviously never been in MLB, he never appeared in the AFL, he skillfully managed his Cactus League appearances to avoid Peoria and Surprise, so I’ve got nothing to go on. Matt Shoemaker is a bearded tabula rasa – a tabula barbati, I suppose. Thus, it’s up to us to piece together a profile of a pitcher we’ve not seen* based on known details about his life in the manner of an over-the-top police procedural.
Name: Matt Shoemaker
Shoemaker will be the second person with that industrious surname to play in MLB, the first since Charlie Shoemaker, a utility IF for the Royals in the early 60s. Charlie had a poor OBP and essentially no power, so, transitive property blah blah blah, we can surmise that Matt Shoemaker isn’t a power pitcher, and he’s stingy with walks.
From: Wyandotte, Michigan
Wyandotte is a suburb of Detroit, and it’s given its name to a popular breed of chicken. Chicken is a common source of protein, generally seen as having little discernible flavor on its own, and is cheaper than beef. From this, I’m assuming Shoemaker’s arsenal is fairly standard (no knuckleball, no screwball, no 91mph change-up, no Matt Moore-like armside run) and that he’s making the league-minimum. Are you getting chills? Seriously, I have goosebumps right now.
Attended: Eastern Michigan University
He’ll be the 10th player from EMU to play in the majors, not including Mets manager Terry Collins. The most famous of these is Cy Young winner Bob Welch of the Dodgers and A’s, but the group also includes Brian Clutterbuck, Brian Bixler, Glenn Gulliver, and Bob Owchinko. From this, we can logically conclude that Shoemaker’s chances of getting to an All-Star game are roughly 1-10. 10%. There’s a non-zero chance.
Facial hair: famously bearded
His AA team in the Texas League once had Matt Shoemaker goatee face t-shirt (?) give-aways, and apparently a removable Matt Shoemaker beard once (even though he didn’t play for the team anymore. You see, M’s? It’s actually better that your beard giveaways are associated with a former player than having a promotion that’s essentially, “We had some, uh, beards, you know, just lying around, and you’re welcome to one if you’d like. No, no reason. Just…we’re trying to clear out some beards, and lots of people like…beards, so yeah.”). WHY a beard? Where did this come from? Let’s go back to his alma mater – is there something we can learn from the ex-EMU players?
Let’s start with Owchinko. Here he is as a rookie with San Diego. Computer, let’s magnify that:
Aha. Beardless. Quite possibly mocked by his teammates, heckled by fans.
Other examples? What about that Clutterbuck guy?
You be the judge. Better bearded, or with one of those awful 80s mustaches? Not even a contest.
Conclusion? Shoemaker is capable of learning, of adapting. He synthesizes information, he has some form of empathy, and can make intuitive leaps based on what’s happened to a member of his tribe. From this, we can deduce that the M’s should try and get to Shoemaker in the first few innings, before he’s able to adapt and target their weaknesses.**
I reached out to people who’d seen a lot of him, and the report was vague – may have peaked in 2011, good control, but stuff isn’t eye-popping. In other words, our investigation was *right on the money*. Absolutely nothing in the scouting report contradicts anything we learned through pure deductive logic. Thanks for joining me today – I don’t think any of us will forget this day. Together, we’re capable of so much more than I thought possible.
1: Ackley, 2B
2: Saunders, CF
3: Gutierrez, RF
4: Morales, DH
5: Ibanez, LF
6: Smoak, 1B
7: Franklin, SS
8: Zunino, C
9: Triunfel, 3B
Bizarro-land line-up today, with Nick Franklin at SS, and Triunfel at 3B to give Kyle Seager a much-needed rest.
Erasmo’s change still gets plenty of swinging strikes (not as many as last year, but still), and it still results in some weak contact and thus a low BABIP-against. But when batters see a bad one, or maybe when they guess right, they hit that pitch *hard*. It’s not sinking as much as it did last year, though that could possibly be noise. On the other hand, his slightly lower velo means his fastballs have slightly less vertical movement, and coupled with his change having slightly MORE vertical movement (that is, less ‘drop’), the gap between them isn’t as large. Does that have anything to do with his 4 HRs given up on the pitch? No idea. I’m pointing out a correlation, and I’m shrugging my shoulders. Maybe?
* The problem is that I’ve actually seen Shoemaker. I went to the 7-inning game he apparently started against Tacoma, and I remember literally nothing. Right- or left-handed? Velo? Nothing. The whole tastes-like-chicken thing isn’t so far-fetched anymore, is it? He’s apparently faced Nick Franklin 8 times, though I believe he may have missed Mike Zunino.
** Another potential weakness came up in reviewing EMU players. There’s a non-zero probability that Shoemaker could suffer some form of hat failure, or the sudden inability to properly wear a hat. 20% of the EMU sample showed signs of hat failure.