As the Angels pad their division lead in the last week of the MLB regular season, starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker is working his way back from a rib-cage strain suffered on September 15. ThePostGame caught up last Friday with Shoemaker to ask him about his recovery timeline, his team's World Series hopes, and how a year of major league experience has made him a more playoff-ready pitcher.

ThePostGame: How are you recovering from your rib injury?
MATT SHOEMAKER: It's coming along. I've got to remind myself today is only day four from when it happened. It’s still sore, but the positive is that it's feeling better.

TPG: Are you almost ready to test the injury by pitching?
SHOEMAKER: Not yet, but we’re getting to that point. As soon as we’re done feeling any nagging soreness, than we’ll get into physical activity. We're optimistic about it.

TPG: Does it take any of the pressure off knowing your team has clinched a playoff spot, that you aren't urgently needed?
SHOEMAKER: Sure, it definitely helps. It’s always great to clinch as soon as you can. But we also know we have the big picture [goal of] winning a World Series. We want to win the rest of the games in the regular season.

TPG: You’ve been in the majors for just over a year now. What have you learned in that time that’s helped prepare you for the playoffs?
SHOEMAKER: It’s a long season. You have to be ready to go. As a pitcher I go out there every five days and perform. ... I've learned a lot from the veteran guys, I just try to pick their brains. Our whole team, we try to pick each other’s brains and learn what we can. I know it’s a lot of hard work to be here, and that it's a blessing to be here.

TPG: Do you feel more equipped to pitch in a big game than you were a year ago?
SHOEMAKER: Definitely. The more you play, the more experience you get, all that stuff. I definitely feel more prepared and more confident. [When you're pitching] you always get excited, the adrenalines’s always going. You want to be able to control that.

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