Matt Shoemaker has built a case for why he should remain in the Angels' rotation. But in baseball, recent results tend to carry a lot of weight, which is why Shoemaker's Tuesday nod against the Indians could be his most important of the season.
Shoemaker has 11 Major League appearances to his name and was the arm the Angels turned to last month when Hector Santiago was taken out of the rotation. In five starts this season, Shoemaker is 3-0 with a 3.76 ERA. However, manager Mike Scioscia will have a decision to make about the future of his rotation soon.
Santiago was reinserted into the rotation when Tyler Skaggs hit the disabled list with a strained right hamstring and has pitched well. Santiago had a 5.19 ERA in his first rotation stint, but has given up four runs in 11 innings since -- including a six-inning shutout performance against the A's on June 10.
Skaggs could be off the DL this weekend, so Tuesday could be the last time Shoemaker has a chance to prove he belongs in the rotation.
"I hope we have tough decisions," Scioscia said. "I think it's good for the team. Maybe it's a little tough for some guys who are vying for spots, but particularly on the pitching side, to have some tough decisions is a good thing."
Josh Tomlin, who will start for the Indians, has delivered quality start after quality start since starting his 2014 in early May. Tomlin has a 3.33 season ERA, and the righty has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his six starts.
"Location and just kind of following what [catchers Yan Gomes and George Kottaras] do behind the plate," Tomlin said of the keys to the steadiness of his success. "They've studied the hitters pretty well. Once you face a team a couple times you can pick up on some tendencies, stuff like that."
Indians: Brantley leaves game after being hit in head
Michael Brantley was named the American League Player of the Week on Monday for what he accomplished in the previous seven days. But his current week didn't have an ideal start as he exited Monday's 4-3 win against the Angels after he hit his head/neck sliding into second base to break up a double play during the third inning.
Before leaving in the fifth inning, he went 1-for-2 with an RBI single.
Brantley has assumed the No. 3 hole in Terry Francona's lineup this season and has produced with a .325 average, 11 homers and 46 RBIs. He went .538 in the seven games before Monday's contest to earn the distinction of the AL's Player of the Week.
Angels: Smith returns to Cleveland
Reliever Joe Smith is back at Progressive Field this week, a place he called home for five seasons with the Indians from 2009-2013.
Smith joined the Angels this past offseason, but his tenure with the Indians is when his Major League career took off. In those five seasons, Smith was a regular out of the Tribe's bullpen, racking up 271 innings in 303 relief appearances to a tune of a 2.76 ERA. This trip is the first time Smith has been back as an opponent.
"It's good to come back to a familiar place," Smith said. "Any time you can come back to where your family can be at, it's good. It's exciting to see guys you're familiar with for five years. I mean, everybody, from some of the staff that works here to the maintenance crew."
Smith, who is 2-0 with a 3.18 in 29 games for Los Angeles this season, has plenty of connections to Ohio. His mom is from the Cleveland area, his parents live in Cincinnati and he attended Wright State University in Dayton.
• Since April 21, Erick Aybar's .327 clip is tops among Major League shortstops, while his 31 RBIs lead AL shortstops. Aybar expects to play on Tuesday after he was held out of Monday's starting lineup as a precaution over his sore left hip. He singled as a pinch-hitter in the eighth.
• The Indians' last three games have all resulted in one-run wins, and the team is 13-8 in such contests this season. The Tribe has also won its last 10 home games.
• Lonnie Chisenhall is hitless in his last 13 at-bats, and his average has dropped 28 points in his last four games.
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.