Matt Shoemaker won't win any MLB awards this season, but the 27-year-old may win plenty of fantasy championships.
Shoemaker, who didn't make a start for the Angels until May 13, won his 14th game on Sunday, holding the A's scoreless over seven innings. The win was Shoemaker's fifth straight, and he hasn't allowed a run since an August 16 start against the Rangers. Shoemaker has tossed 21 2/3 shutout innings in his past three starts.
On Sunday, against the division-rival Athletics, Shoemaker scattered five hits, didn't walk a batter and struck out seven. The right-hander owns a 3.14 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 115/21 K/BB ratio over 117 2/3 innings of work this season.
"You can see the way his stuff plays -- it's not like he didn't have the potential to do this -- but sometimes it takes a while for guys to get their opportunity," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after his start against the Marlins last week. "It's tough enough to make the major leagues, but to make a footprint here is a totally different chapter in your development. He is making the most of getting the ball every fifth day and going out there and pitching. It's great to see."
For Shoemaker, it took most of six seasons. The undrafted free agent signed out of Eastern Michigan University, Shoemaker has logged 786 2/3 innings in the minor leagues. Over that time, he's 50-40 with a pedestrian 4.52 ERA and 1.36 WHIP.
So when he joined the rotation in May, it didn't come with much fanfare. Even with a win-loss record of 8-3 at the end of July, which he capped with seven shutout innings against the Tigers on July 26, Shoemaker wasn't commanding much respect in the fantasy realm.
That's changed with a stellar August, a month that saw him win six games thanks to some fortuitous timing -- Shoemaker started the first and last games of the month, and he also picked up a win pitching in relief in the Angels' 19-inning marathon victory over the Red Sox. In all, Shoemaker went 6-1 with a 1.31 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and 38 strikeouts in 41 1/3 innings in the month.
Shoemaker and the rest of the American League rookie crop will finish a distant second to Jose Abreu in the AL Rookie of the Year Award voting, but with Sunday's effort, Shoemaker joined the likes of Nolan Ryan as pitchers to throw three straight starts of seven or more shutout innings. Award or not, it's elite company for a guy with 18 major league starts.
"When he's on that mound, he thinks he's Nolan Ryan," Scioscia said. "He pitches with confidence."
Going forward, fantasy owners can start him with confidence, too.
Ryu, Uribe Return
A couple Dodgers made promising returns to the field Sunday.
Juan Uribe and Hyun-Jin Ryu were both activated before Sunday's game against the Padres, and both contributed in the Dodgers' 7-1 victory. Uribe, who missed just over two weeks with a strained right hamstring, went 2-for-5 with a pair of run-scoring hits, including an RBI double.
But it was Ryu's return from a strained glute muscle that offered much to feel good about. The left-hander shook off some early rust to hold the Padres to one run over seven innings, including tossing six scoreless frames after a shaky first. Ryu gave up just four hits on the day while striking out seven, earning his 14th win of the season.
“I felt pretty confident,” Ryu said through his interpreter. “It didn’t take long for me to find my rhythm. I know it had been two weeks since I pitched. But it felt like I was just out there a few days ago.”
It had actually been closer to three weeks since Ryu last took the mound. Ryu suffered the right glute strain during his August 13 start. Because of the way the schedule lined up and the team's off days, Ryu only missed two turns due to the injury, though.
Ryu's impressive return paired with Zack Greinke's strong start in Saturday's loss bodes well for the Dodgers down the home stretch. With Uribe back producing as well, the Dodgers appear to be getting healthy at the right time.
A few trades in the hours and days before the waiver trade deadline helped bolster a handful of contending teams for the stretch run.
The Athletics, one of the busiest teams at the non-waiver trade deadline, were active again, trading for Adam Dunn to fill a designated hitter role against right-handed pitching. In exchange for Dunn, they dealt minor league reliever Nolan Sanburn.
The Orioles found a trading partner in the White Sox as well, acquiring Alejandro De Aza for minor leaguers Mark Blackmar and Miguel Chalas. De Aza was slated to start in left field for the Orioles on Sunday before he missed his flight to Baltimore. It's assumed he'll get regular time in left field while Steve Pearce is sidelined, but De Aza and his .243/.309/.354 line are most likely slated for part-time duty if Pearce is healthy.
The O's also added to their infield depth, dealing for Kelly Johnson. The Red Sox sent Johnson and minor leaguer Michael Almanzar to the Orioles for Ivan De Jesus and Jemile Weeks. Weeks came to the Orioles from the Athletics in the Jim Johnson trade, a deal that didn't particularly work out well for either side. Johnson's ability to play third base in Manny Machado's absence will likely get his bat into the lineup with some regularity.
Needing a late-inning reliever, the Brewers looked within their division to grab Jonathan Broxton from the Reds. The Reds will receive two players to be named later for the hefty righty. Francisco Rodriguez' job isn't threatened by the move, but Broxton may head into next year as the team's closer depending on their offseason moves.
The only player with crossover appeal for single leagues is John Mayberry, who moves from the Phillies to the Blue Jays in a trade. He should make his way into the lineup against left-handers over the season's final month.
National League Quick Hits: Alex Wood turned in one of the best performances of the day Sunday, striking out 12 Marlins over eight scoreless innings in a win. The southpaw will have a shot at a repeat when the sides square off again on Saturday ... The Giants brought the lumber against the Brewers on Sunday, banging out 16 hits and 15 runs. Pablo Sandoval went 3-for-3 with a home run, three RBI and three runs scored, while Hunter Pence went 4-for-5 with three runs scored and finished a home run shy of the cycle ... Bryce Harper capped off a rebound month with a two-homer game against the Mariners. The outfielder batted .279 with seven home runs and 15 RBI in August after a rough July ... Kolten Wong, who left Sunday's game after hitting his head on the ground while trying to field a ball, passed initial concussion tests. He'll be re-evaluated Monday, but there's hope he won't miss any time ... Matt Holliday led the comeback charge against the Cubs, as he hit a solo home run, an RBI double and a two-run single in the Cardinals' 9-6, come-from-behind win on Sunday.
American League Quick Hits: Clay Buchholz flashed his devastating ability in a complete-game shutout of the Rays. The right-hander gave up just three hits, striking out six in the victory ... J.J. Hardy hit a grand slam, plating four of the Orioles' 12 runs on the afternoon against the Twins. Hardy, Nelson Cruz and Ryan Flaherty homered for the home side ... Dustin Ackley finished off a superb month with a big game Sunday, going 2-for-4 with a homer and four RBI against the Nationals. Ackley had six home runs, 24 RBI and 19 runs scored in August ... The Rangers officially activated Derek Holland from the 60-day disabled list. The lefty will make his season debut on Tuesday after missing five months following offseason knee surgery ... The Astros claimed Sam Deduno off waivers from the Twins over the weekend. The 31-year-old had some good moments in Minnesota, and the Astros would do well to try him out as a starter in the final month.