The Dodgers certainly have room to experiment over these last several weeks of the regular season. The boys in blue have the best record in baseball (89-35) and are on pace to break the all-time franchise record for wins and possibly the all-time MLB record. They have a 21.5 game lead in the NL West and are well ahead of the next best Houston Astros for home field advantage in the World Series.
With the Dodgers having such a big lead they’re able to do things that normally most clubs in a tight pennant race coming down the stretch wouldn’t be able to do. As Oscar Said a few weeks ago, the Dodgers are going to be experimenting with the lineups and auditioning players for the postseason. Some players are a lock of course, and others will be battling for a spot on the playoff roster.
With that being said there is one experiment that should absolutely end. That’s the Brock Stewart as a starting pitcher experiment. I’m sorry but it’s just not working out for young Brock. However there is good news for him. He’s been excellent in a different capacity and there is room for him outside of the starting rotation, and that’s in the bullpen.
Stewart has been a spot starter for the Dodgers since last season and well let’s be honest here; he’s been a terrible starting pitcher. I know it’s been somewhat of a small sample size, but the fact remains; Brock Stewart is just not a starting pitcher and the numbers back this up. What he has done well is pitch excellently as a reliever.
He’s appeared in 17 games for the Dodgers since 2016 and started 8 of them. He’s made three of those starts in 2017. If you don’t believe me then just check out the numbers for yourself.
As a starter- 6.42 ERA-.302/.374/.518 (42 for 139) 9 HR 28K/16BB .892 OPS
As a reliever – 1.47 ERA .177/.271/.242 (11 for 62) 1 HR 14K/7BB .513 OPS
Those numbers don’t lie. Stewart has been heads and tails better as a reliever then as a starter. You may think that he’s had some poor batted ball luck (.324 BABIP as a starter, .213 BABIP as a reliever) but if you’ve watched his starts you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Stewart has yet to pitch more than four innings in a start this year and never has pitched beyond the fifth inning in his career. In his last start on Tuesday evening against the Pirates in Pittsburgh he was unable to get out of the third inning. He allowed five earned runs on four hits with four walks over two frames.
Every starts is the same with him. He’s generally unable to pitch out of the third or fourth inning and breaks down by allowing a boatload of runs. He’s yet to make any adjustments and every time he makes a start he looks exactly the same. The results are the same as well. I.E., they’re not good. He just doesn’t look comfortable starting.
The good thing is that young Brock has pitched very well out of the bullpen. Of his seven relief appearances this season six of those have been multiple scoreless innings. As a matter of fact, he’s allowed just two earned runs as a reliever this year.
The Dodgers seem to agree as they announced that they optioned Stewart back to Oklahoma City and recalled catcher Kyle Farmer. With rosters set to expand on September 1, there is no doubt we’ll see Stewart back with the big club.
Today, the #Dodgers recalled Kyle Farmer from Triple-A OKC and optioned Brock Stewart to Oklahoma City.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 23, 2017
In the meantime it’s ok to admit that either Stewart is not a starting pitcher, or he’s got a tremendous amount of work to do become a solid major league starting pitcher. It’s not a knock on Brock. There’s not much room in the rotation for him anyways with Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Rich Hill, and Alex Wood entrenched in the top four spots.
Some pitchers are just not meant to be starters, just as some are not meant to be relievers. Perhaps it’s a routine problem for Brock? Pitchers can be creatures of habit and it’s hard for a pitcher to go from reliever to starter and vice versa. I think the Dodgers should do the prudent thing and use Brock where he excels most, and that’s in the bullpen. There’s certainly room for a big strong right handed middle reliever with a heavy four-seamer. And you know what, there’s no shame in that at all.