My bike had a spoke protector in the final stages of disintegration, and I simply removed it.
I notice that when the chain is on the middle chainring and the middle gear of the freehub, it's not exactly a straight line. It's in toed a little towards the rear. It would be a straight line if I had it on the next smaller gear.
The gear changing is a little iffy at the extremes of small/large cog combinations if you get my drift.
By removing the hub protector, did I throw off the geometry and should I put a spacer under the freehub?
I never thought of spoke protectors as having any actual mechanical function as a spacer.