It turns out that having a rubber arm doesn’t do you any good when you hurt your knee. That is what Scot Shields found out today when the Angels announced that their star set-up man (which I am pretty sure is an oxymoron) has decided to go under the knife for season-ending knee surgery.
Learning that Shields will not be returning is a major blow to Los Angeles’ Bullpen of Doom. The relievers need as many reinforcements as they can possibly get and a healthy Scot Shields would have been a major boost, instead his permanent loss deflates whatever sense of hope they had. A successful transition to the bullpen for Kelvim Escobar now becomes imperative as the Angels continue to look for a reliable eighth inning man since Jason Bulger, the de facto set-up guy, seems like a disaster waiting to happen in such high pressure situations.
Even if Escobar does settle in as the set-up man, or even worse, if his arm gives out again, there is now little question that GM Tony Reagins is going to have to bring in at least one more high-caliber veteran reliever (does anyone have Huston Street’s phone number?). A major part of the Angels’ success this century has been that the game has pretty much been over if the Halos took a lead into the 8th inning, but now without Shields and the departed K-Rod, they lose that edge and Reagins has to do his best to get that back.
As for Shields, a breakdown like this was always inevitable after being ridden so hard over the years. The good news is that the injury isn’t to his arm, so he has an excellent chance of coming back next season as a good new. Heck, the year of off from throwing pitches might actually do him so good in the long-term as far as career longevity goes.