Admittedly, Shoemaker hasn’t had a great start to his Twins tenure posting a 1.43 WHIP and 6.00 ERA in 30 innings pitched. Especially after the worst outing of his career against Kansas City two weeks ago, Twins Twitter seemed ready to move on from the oft-injured veteran which I think was a little misguided. You see, in the four starts prior to facing the Royals, Shoemaker had a “good” start, “poor” start, “awful” start, and an “above average” start using FanGraphs Game Score Version 2 metric. Keeping in mind that Shoemaker was brought in as a low-risk/high-reward option who had pitched 88 1/3 innings over the last three seasons, I don’t know what more Twins fans would expect specifically this early in the season. In 2019, it took a superior pitcher in Michael Pineda two full months to really get back to full strength after an extended absence because of Tommy John surgery so why wouldn’t we give Shoemaker similar grace? Okay, I know the answer to that.
Entering that atrocious outing, the Twins had just finished the first month of their season with a 9-15 record ... the inverse of what most would have expected. Many fans, myself included, figured a turn of the calendar would be a good opportunity to turn the tide of the season and get back on track. Then eight earned runs (nine total) in 3 1/3 innings pitched happened, and we realized it wasn’t going to be as easy to figuratively “turn the page” from the first month of the season. So, naturally, recency bias sets in and all of a sudden Twins twitter is narrowed in on the number five starter, with a respectable career ERA of 3.91 (for reference Berríos’ is 4.15), as the primary target for a pink slip in his locker to start cleaning things up. Yet, for me and setting aside one lonesome start, Shoemaker has mostly met expectations, and furthermore here’s the other issue I had then and still have:
Who is going to replace him and automatically be better? Simply put, nobody. Moreover, the Twins fifth spot in the rotation is pretty far down the list of things I would attribute their 12-23 record to. All that said, Shoemaker could be a valuable asset moving forward whether it’s as a starter helping a team climb back into the playoff race or as a trade chip on one of the most disappointing Twins teams ever.
Although it hasn’t been “the rest of the month”, he’s now had two starts since May 1st and has given the Twins mixed results, although his box score against Oakland is a little misleading. Albeit we’re talking about the Tigers, he looked effective although inefficient in his start following the Royals and was taken out after just 86 pitches, which made sense given that the 3-4-5 hitters were due up for the Tigers. On Friday, facing one of the best homerun hitting teams in the league, he made three mistakes and the A’s made him pay, scoring all five runs off the long ball. Regardless, he gave the Twins six innings for the second time this year which is one more time than Maeda and only one less than Berríos. You see what I’m setting up here? If you were disappointed in Shoemakers season as a whole, I think your disappointment needs to be redirected elsewhere. If I hadn’t made it clear yet, to this point Shoemaker has met the admittedly low bar I set for him when he signed with the club. I truly believe that if he can continue giving us competitive starts, one way or another, he could become a valuable asset come the end of July.
What are your early thoughts on Shoemaker? Are you ready to move on? If so, who takes his spot?