Dodgers: Brock Stewart the Next Shutdown Setup Reliever?

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LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 26: Brock Stewart
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 26: Brock Stewart /
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The Dodgers as an organization have a large assortment of starting pitching talent.  Brock Stewart is one of their talented young starters but is often overshadowed by over top prospects.

The Dodgers will enter spring training with five solid starting pitchers and that doesn’t even take into account starters like Walker Buehler, Brock Stewart, and Ross Stripling.  Walker Buehler will compete for a spot in the starting rotation and Ross Stripling has settled into the swingman role in the bullpen.  The Dodgers and Brock Stewart could benefit by converting Stewart into a middle relief role.

In recent years the Dodgers have made it a habit of turning starting pitchers into middle relievers and finding success.  Joe Blanton and Brandon Morrow are the latest examples of this, and the club signed Tom Koehler to once again try to turn him from an average starter to a plus reliever.  They should attempt to do the same with Brock Stewart as he is buried on the starting pitcher depth chart.

Stewart averages 93.7 miles per hour on his fastball but that is when he starts games and has to save himself for the duration of the game.  Coming into the game for an inning or two, Stewart would average around 96-97 miles per hour on his fastball as he has shown in his brief experience as a reliever for the Dodgers.  Like Ross Stripling, he would also give the Dodgers another reliever who can pitch multiple innings.

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For his career in the big leagues, Brock Stewart hasn’t seen a big split in his statistics against right-handed and left-handed hitters.  Stewart has allowed a .254 average to righties, and a .263 average to left-handed batters.  Those stats aren’t bad but in a relief role, Stewart could be even better as he’s shown in his limited experience.

Stewart as a starter: .289 AVG allowed, .370 OBP, .863 OPS

Stewart as a reliever: .200 AVG allowed, .299 OBP, .581 OPS

Clearly, Stewart has been better as a reliever than he has been as a starter.  Stewart’s average allowed is almost cut in half as a reliever and his OPS allowed is also much lower in a relief role.  Pitching out of the bullpen, Stewart’s stuff would play better than it does as a starting pitcher.  Brock throws hard and has a very hard biting slider that would be tough for fatigued hitters to catch up to late in games.

While Stewart has a change-up, it’s his third-best pitch and more of a show-me pitch than a true out pitch.  If he pitched in a relief role, Stewart can abandon the changeup completely and stick with his fastball-slider combination.  Since he would only be facing each opposing hitter once or twice Stewart could easily get through a lineup once or twice with his top two pitches.

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Brock Stewart has a very live arm, but unfortunately, due to the Dodgers depth and fast-rising prospects, they are running out of opportunities to utilize Stewart.  The Dodgers and Brock Stewart would both reap the rewards if Stewart is moved to a middle relief role.  It’s a move that seems easy to see the benefits of, hopefully, the Dodgers transition Brock to the bullpen this season and reap the rewards of his power stuff.

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