Dodgers: Brock Stewart should be on the Opening Day roster

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 26: Brock Stewart #48 hugs Yasmani Grandal #9 of the Los Angeles Dodgers after defeating the San Diego Padres 9-2 in a game at Dodger Stadium on September 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 26: Brock Stewart #48 hugs Yasmani Grandal #9 of the Los Angeles Dodgers after defeating the San Diego Padres 9-2 in a game at Dodger Stadium on September 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

As Brock Stewart exited stage left in his final act of spring training, his performance was merely an audition for the bigger play, not the culmination of performances.

Stewart, a seasoned actor looking to find a job, was auditioning for the part of a regular major league pitcher, one that stayed in the major leagues and did not have to travel up 17 times in a season between triple-A and the major leagues.

Stewart was an airplane player. Quadruple-A.

AAAA- a group of players not particularly good enough to be major leaguers and too good to be in Triple-A. It’s an in-between group burdened with the maddening inconvenience of uncertainty.

That was Stewart. That has been Stewart for two years and it probably will continue to be him.

Statistically, the number support the transactions.

Stewart will appear in the major leagues, post a stint of replaceable mediocrity and be sent down to dominate in the minors.

Back in Oklahoma City, Stewart plays a series of games that prove he is ready for the majors and then plays games in LA to prove he is not.

That has given the Dodgers all the excuses they needed to make Stewart this unfortunate player with no home. His next pitching appearance always uncertain.

But, for the first time, Stewart is in a new conversation. A positive one that could change his former fortune: the Dodgers might put him on the Opening Day roster.

Yes, this would not be a conversation if it were not for some injuries.

Stewart has not been the Dodgers first choice for anything since he first debuted in the majors and even back to back perfect games in the spring would not have changed that.

But, when Clayton Kershaw went down and Rich Hill followed, the mighty fell and the less prolific took advantage.

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Stewart quickly climbed into the conversation of “maybe it could be him to grab a roster spot” and sure enough, it was. He only needed to do one thing for it to happen: prove it.

The sample size was certainly limited. Stewart pitched in three games, starting all of them, and amassing 6.1 innings pitched in the spring.

For the Dodgers, it was enough to create a battle between him and Dennis Santana.

In the 6.1 innings, Stewart gave up two earned runs, both on solo-shots and struck out four batters.

Looking at it that way there is nothing that really jumps out at you. Stewart did a good job at being fine this spring and his value was neither skyrocketed nor tanked by his performance. It was just simply good work.

Simply good work has been the definition of his major league career too. In three seasons he has pitched only 80 major league innings and in those, his ERA was 4.84. Exclude this past season’s 17.2 innings of 6.11 ERA baseball and Stewart’s earned run average is at least a more acceptable 4.48. Still, though, it is not proof of belonging in a big league uniform.

Based on the lack of spring reps, the bumpy history and the lack of real proof that he belongs, an argument that Brock Stewart should be on the opening day roster seems anecdotal. However, his argument lies in what could be, not in what has been.

Stewart doesn’t boast a ridiculous pitch mix. He relies heavily on a sinker and backs it up with a changeup, a slider and a four-seam fastball. But, take a look at the percentages on the pitches and he is essentially a two-pitch pitcher.

He throws the sinker 51.6 percent of the time, 25.9 percent change, 12.2 percent slider and a mere 10.3 percent on the four-seamer.

The mix is fine but one pitcher, the sinker, puts him in the opening day conversation over Santana.

That sinker ranks in the 73rd percentile of major league baseball in spin rate. Yes, it has struggled to consistently produce outs but at the same time, it has the potential to do much better.

The Dodgers, riddled by the injury bug, should take comfort in what Stewart’s sinker could do for the team especially out of the bullpen.

Then there is the uncalculated part of the argument. The battle for the last bullpen spot is between Stewart and Santana. Santana is still just 22-years-old and he is coming off a year in which he debuted, got hurt and didn’t play another game.

Yes, he impressed last year in the minors and yes, the Dodgers want him to be a regular fixture on the roster but he has plenty of time to become that and to get healthy as a minor leaguer. Stewart, with just one option left on his contract, doesn’t have that the luxury of time.

So, the Dodgers should give Stewart the opportunity to prove himself. If they do, the stint will only last until Kershaw or Hill return and giving a player that has been on an airplane for much of his career that chance is the right way to go.

Next. Dodgers Way Quick Hits: Brock Stewart, Kiké Hernandez, Bullpen. dark

Brock Stewart is not flashy, he isn’t overwhelming but he has been the Dodgers rag-doll and he’s taken that role in stride. With some spin rate numbers to prove it, it’s time to give Brock Stewart his shot.