ANAHEIM -- All of the Angels' postseason hopes now rest in Matt Shoemaker's left rib cage area, which was wrapped with a giant bag of ice early Wednesday afternoon. This is where they're at, on the verge of clinching a division title but particularly vulnerable with their starting rotation, which has already lost Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs for the season.
Shoemaker said he was "still a little sore" two days after exiting his start with what an MRI exam later revealed was a mild oblique strain, "but it feels better than yesterday, which is really positive."
Still, the uncertainty lingers.
"There is no time frame," Shoemaker added. "Literally they said in two or three days you can feel good, or it could be a week or two. We'll just go by feel. Once it stops feeling sore, they want to get into some activity just to test it and rehab it. I want to get into everything quick, but they're just being smart."
The only thing the Angels know right now is that Shoemaker will not start on Saturday when his turn in the rotation comes up. Angels manager Mike Scioscia wouldn't say who will take Shoemaker's spot, but did confirm that it'll be someone currently in his clubhouse -- eliminating Double-A right-hander Drew Rucinski and strongly indicating that it would be Wade LeBlanc, a lefty who spent much of the season at Triple-A.
That hardly matters, though.
The Angels -- their magic number at two heading into Wednesday's matchup with the Mariners -- may have already wrapped up the American League West title by the time Shoemaker's start comes up again. They need the 27-year-old rookie for the five-game AL Division Series in early October, and his status for that is still up in the air.
"We're not going to know," Scioscia said. "I guess it's always encouraging when he comes in and feels a little better as opposed to this thing going in another direction, but there are a lot of hurdles that Matt's going to have to cross before he's out there pitching again, and we're not going to have that answer in 24, 48 hours. We're not. It's going to take time. It's still open-ended, and we'll keep our fingers crossed."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.