He is what general managers call "organizational pitching depth," the type of guy who can be stashed at triple A in case a starter gets hurt or is struggling but is rarely viewed as a long-term rotation candidate.
So when Shoemaker was called up from Salt Lake last week to replace winless left-hander
"It's an opportunity," he said. "Hopefully, I can grab ahold of it and run with it."
Two starts in, Shoemaker has broken into a sprint. After beating Philadelphia ace
Shoemaker escaped a first-and-third, one-out jam in the first inning, getting
Effectively mixing his fastball, curve, slider and split-fingered fastball, Shoemaker threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of 23 batters and jumped ahead of eight hitters with 1-and-2 counts.
"Getting ahead of hitters is important," Shoemaker said. "It puts them in a hole. They're going to be more antsy if it's 1-2 or 0-2. It works to your advantage."
Shoemaker barely flinched in the second when shortstop
"I want to attack each game as, 'I have opportunity here, let's roll with it,'" Shoemaker said. "I want to execute my pitches, go as deep in the game as I can and help the team win."
It didn't hurt to have a 5-0 lead by the fourth, thanks to a 12-hit attack that featured solo homers by
That helped the Angels win three of four from the
"Shoe did an outstanding job today, just like he did in Philly last week," Pujols said. "Our goal as hitters is to put as many runs up so pitchers can feel comfortable and make their pitches."
Santiago, demoted to the bullpen after going 0-6 with a 5.19 earned-run average in seven games, didn't get much support. The Angels scored 15 runs in his seven starts and committed several costly errors behind him.
But Santiago also walked 18 batters in 34 2/3 innings and committed two errors of his own, and with Shoemaker pitching well, he feels like a relay runner who has dropped the baton.
"I don't want to wish anything bad on any of our starters, but I'm motivated to win that spot back," Santiago said. "I did so much to earn it, and it was taken from me too quick."
Santiago has made one relief appearance, retiring two batters in Toronto on May 11. He threw a 25-pitch power bullpen Friday in an effort to remain sharp, but the longer he goes without pitching, the antsier he gets.
"It's definitely getting to the point where if the phone rings, I want it to be for me," Santiago said. "I'm concerned. Am I going to be ready to go six or seven innings, to throw 100 pitches, if I've gone 10 or 11 days without working?"
There is a chance the Angels could option Santiago to triple A to keep him stretched out as a starter.
When — or if — Santiago returns to the rotation, it will be with a different mind-set.