When pitcher Brock Stewart was initially recalled to the major league roster this year on June 18, many fans of the Dodgers believed that the 25-year-old righty was merely an extra body in the perpetual carousel of the Los Angeles bullpen, setting the stage for yet another roster move when the next Dodger regular became healthy.
However, since taking the bump on June 20 against the Mets in his first big league action of 2016, Stewart has impressed to the tune of allowing only two baserunners over his four appearances. So far, he’s thrown nine full innings of scoreless baseball, surrendering only one hit and a walk while striking out eight opposing batters.
At first, many believed that he would be utilized mostly in low-leverage types of situations, yet he entered Friday evening’s contest against the Royals in the seventh inning with a slim two-run lead. He would go on to throw two full frames of perfect ball to set-up closer Kenley Jansen and preserve the victory for righty Kenta Maeda.
Stewart made his major league debut for the Dodgers late last June when the club purchased his contract to make a spot start against the Brewers in Milwaukee. The rise of the Illinois native through the Los Angeles farm system was incredible. In 2015, he began his campaign with Low-A Great Lakes and ended with High-A Rancho Cucamonga, throwing a total of 101 innings. Last year, Stewart breezed his way through the California League with the Quakes, had a cup of coffee with Double-A Tulsa, and made a quick pit stop in Triple-A Oklahoma City, which led to his big league debut on June 28.
He would proceed to make seven appearances for the Dodgers last year, five of which were starts, and posted a 2-2 record with a 5.79 ERA over an even 28 innings pitched. Despite the relatively unimpressive numbers, Stewart carried himself well as a professional and often displayed flashes of skill which many believed projected a long road ahead in the bigs.
He began his 2017 campaign on the disabled list after suffering a severe case of shoulder tendinitis about halfway through spring training. After finally being reinstated from the DL and subsequently optioned to OKC on June 7, Stewart made three starts for Oklahoma City, posting a 3.24 ERA with 13 strikeouts over 8-1/3 innings. Now, he appears to be on point to contribute to the big league bullpen in every possible capacity.
In an interview with us just before his MLB debut last summer, Stewart spoke in detail about his repertoire, which features a four-seam fastball that normally sits in the 92-96 range, but can top out as high as 98. His arsenal is complimented by a two-seam fastball, a slider, and a quality changeup — all very valuable tools which will certainly benefit his quest to hang around in the big leagues for the remainder of the 2017 campaign.
Although it’s unlikely he’ll be used in the middle game of the series against the Royals on Saturday afternoon, Stewart will be ready regardless as he watches his club aim to win its fifth consecutive contest. First pitch is slated for 4:15 p.m. local time as Kansas City veteran righty Ian Kennedy squares off against Brandon McCarthy.
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