Right-hander Matt Shoemaker was involved in a frightening play on Sunday in which he was struck in the head by a 105 mph line drive off the bat of Kyle Seager. While he walked off the field with minimal assistance from the Angels’ training staff, Shoemaker was diagnosed with a small skull fracture and a hematoma and underwent surgery to stop the bleeding in his skull, writes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Grave as that procedure sounds, Angels GM Billy Eppler downplayed the severity, calling the procedure “fairly routine” and telling Fletcher that Shoemaker is resting comfortably.
The Angels and Shoemaker’s doctors expect a full recovery for Shoemaker, though he almost certainly will not pitch again this year. Eppler told Fletcher that the team is counting on Shoemaker to be able to reclaim his spot in the rotation next season. With a 3.88 ERA, 8.0 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and a 39.8 percent ground-ball rate through 160 innings, Shoemaker joins Ricky Nolasco and Tyler Skaggs as perhaps the only locks to slot into manager Mike Scioscia’s 2017 rotation (assuming a full recovery).
In the meantime, Tim Lincecum, Jhoulys Chacin and Brett Oberholtzer are the top candidates to step into the rotation for the remainder of the 2016 campaign. While that’s very much a secondary storyline to the overall health and well-being of Shoemaker, it’ll be interesting to see how his replacement ultimately fares — whichever of the three it might be. Lincecum and Chacin are both free agents at season’s end that would benefit from strong finishes, while Oberholtzer is out of minor league options and would undoubtedly like to improve his standing within the organization.