It’s safe to say that 2018 was not the season Brock Stewart was expecting to have for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 27-year-old was coming off a 2017 campaign in which he posted a 3.41 ERA in 17 appearances (four starts) — albeit with an uninspiring 4.73 FIP.
In 2018, Stewart regressed in just about every major category — posting an ERA of 6.11 (6.39 FIP) along with a declining K/9 rate (7.13) and alarming BB/9 rate (4.58). In fact, if you’re looking for positives from last year they’re difficult to find.
Stewart allowed at least one earned run in seven of his nine appearances while issuing a walk in six of those games. Stewart has always struck as someone who appears to be getting unlucky.
His stuff looks good, but it’s almost like he can’t buy a break with soft contact hits and unlucky sequencing. At some point, however, it’s time to stop blaming luck and accept that this just might be who Stewart truly is.
One reason for hope, however, is his performance in the Minor Leagues. While the Majors were a nightmare, Stewart’s time with Triple-A Oklahoma City was like a dream.
In 19 starts he posted a 2.99 ERA (marking his third consecutive season with impressive AAA numbers). The question is, will he ever be able to translate that success into the Majors? And will the Dodgers continue to give him an opportunity to try?
Stewart’s best performance of the season came on May 11 in a 6-2 loss to the Reds in which he came on in long relief after Kenta Maeda struggled through 4.2 innings. Stewart got through three innings, allowing just one hit and one run (while walking two and striking out two).
Unfortunately, the Dodger offense never figured out Matt Harvey and Co. on this day, meaning Stewart’s efforts were for naught.
It’s hard to say what will come of Stewart moving forward. On one hand, it’s easy to see him being a trade piece for a team desperate for somebody to come and eat innings as a starter. He’s a buy-low starter who has impressed at Triple-A without ever translating that success into the Majors, and so maybe you bet on him being a late-bloomer who learns from his experiences.
On the flip side, maybe the Dodgers — desperate for consistency in their bullpen (and without any real openings in the rotation barring a barrage of injuries) — will convert Stewart to a relief pitcher full time, hoping that by allowing him to serve in a defined role he’ll find some success at the Major League level.