As the Los Angeles Dodgers have stockpiled pitchers over recent seasons, Brock Stewart in some sense has suffered from being a member of that depth. Stewart surprisingly made his MLB debut in June 2016, and he went on to appear in seven games (five starts) for the Dodgers.
Stewart then spent portions of the 2017 and ’18 seasons shuttling back and forth from Triple-A Oklahoma City, proving valuable when the Dodgers were in need of a spot starter or fresh arm in the bullpen.
Although it was initially believed Stewart no longer had Minor League options remaining, a quirk in his service time allows for the Dodgers to still send him to and from Oklahoma City as they deem necessary for a fourth and final year.
Regardless of where he spends the bulk of the 2019 season, Stewart hopes to do so as an improved pitcher. He’s using Spring Training to adjust his delivery — adding a leg kick — with the hope of improving velocity, per Rowan Kavner of Dodger Insider:
“The ball feels better coming out,” Stewart said. “It’s just about getting consistent with it and commanding the heater. That’s when I’m at my best, is when I command the heater. Didn’t necessarily do a great job today in the first inning, but in the second inning got better.”
“I need to get more velo,” Stewart said. “I know that — everybody knows that. Last year, I was down. Today, I think it was right around what it was the first outing, but that’s something that comes as the season goes. Velo comes and goes, and I definitely thing there’s more in the tank.”
Stewart allowed just one hit in Saturday’s start against the Arizona Diamondbacks — a solo home run in the first inning. He then needed all of seven pitches to retire the side in order in the second inning, and from there he retired to the bullpen for additional throwing.
After showing signs of improvement in 2017, Stewart regressed last season. He went 0-1 with a 6.11 ERA, 6.39 FIP and 1.81 WHIP in nine games (two starts) with the Dodgers. Stewart’s fastball velocity has steadily declined since averaging 94.1 mph as a rookie in 2016.
It dipped to 93.7 mph the following season, then again to 91.6 mph in 2018. Opponents batted .256 and slugged .465 against Stewart’s fastball last season.