2016 Dodgers in Review: RHP Brock Stewart

MLB (LA) 28 19.8 9.5 2.25 5.79 5.90 5.03 -0.2
MiLB (3 Levels) 121 27.9 4.1 0.3 1.79 Low Low N/A

What Happened in 2016: Aside from his first two unsuccessful major league starts, Brock Stewart produced a sub-2 ERA over his next five appearances with the Dodgers after a rapid ascension and dominant showing in the minors.

By June it was time to talk about Stewart after the Dodgers’ rotation was slammed by a large number of injuries. His remarkable ascension up the rungs of the Dodgers’ minor league system ladder, a journey that began at High-A Rancho Cucamonga at the start to the season, still had not completely convinced Dustin he would debut for the Dodgers in 2016.

“Still, I’m not expecting Stewart to debut this season. His meteoric rise through the system has been something to marvel at, but a full season of development in the minors should help him as early as next season.”

Brock Brock did make his Dodger debut in 2016 on June 29 in Milwaukee. Chad wrote about the improvement he had made with his pitches that helped spur his quick-rise to the majors.

“More important than any of the stats, though, is the progression of his stuff. Stewart’s pitches have all taken a step forward, and now he has a four-pitch mix with a sinker, cutter (or sharper slider), slider, and change, all of which have played up in the minors because of his ability to throw strikes. The sinker is 92-94 mph and has touched 96, and both the slider and change currently grade out as average, with the cutter/slider being the likely swing-and-miss offering in most cases.”

Unfortunately Stewart’s first two big-league starts were nothing short of disastrous. In his MLB debut, he was tagged with his first career loss with the Dodgers after five innings of work, allowing five runs on eight hits with seven strikeouts and two walks against the Brewers.

He returned to Oklahoma City and made four starts before jetting to Colorado to rejoin the Dodgers for his second major league start, another unfortunate debacle. To be fair, Colorado is never an easy place for rookie pitchers (or any pitcher for that matter). He allowed nine runs on 10 hits, including four home runs in the 12-2 loss to the Rockies.

After the shaky start to his MLB career, Stewart settled down and pitched very well in his next five appearances with the Dodgers, only allowing four runs on 15 hits with 17 strikeouts and nine walks in 19 innings pitched. He picked up his first win in Blue on September 7 vs. the D-backs.

In August, Stewart took on the soon-to-be World Champion Chicago Cubs and Jon Lester, coming out on top after pitching five shutout innings and striking out eight in his third major league start.

At the conclusion of the season, Stewart was named the Dodgers’ minor-league pitcher of the year and deservedly so. Dustin dubbed him a “minor-league version of Clayton Kershaw” in his assessment at the end of the year.

“Stewart’s 2015 was solid, but he did get roughed up a bit in the Cal League. I ranked him at No. 61 coming into the season and said he’d be a guy to “keep an eye on,” but even I didn’t expect him to basically be the minor-league version of Clayton Kershaw. It sounds hyperbolic, but he actually was that good (especially with Tulsa).

He began the year with Rancho Cucamonga and it took just 11 innings for the 24-year-old to earn a promotion Double-A. With Tulsa, he took off, as he pitched to a 1.12 ERA, allowed a .188 opponents’ batting average and struck out nearly 29 percent of the hitters he faced. That performance landed him in Triple-A with the OKC Dodgers. There, he made just three starts (2.89 ERA, .205 opp BA, 36.0 K%) before his services were needed in the majors. While his MLB stint wasn’t great (though, he was really good against the Cubs), it was valuable experience for him. He bounced up and down with Triple-A and the Dodgers before going to Tulsa to close the season. With OKC, he looked a little more human by posting a 2.49 ERA in 50 2/3 innings, but the most impressive part about his season might be the command/control he exhibited in the minors. He walked just 19 hitters the entire season, which bodes well for his future.”

One of the best stories (and hair) of the year, Stewart was a surprise key contributor for the Dodgers in 2016 and projects to be a solid No. 4 or 5 starter.

2017 Status: Pre-arb. Stewart could be of interest to Milwaukee or other teams in potential off-season trades. If not moved this winter, he could very well be in the mix for a rotation spot, although there will be many arms competing this spring including Alex Wood, Julio Urias, Brandon McCarthy, Jose De Leon, Ross Stripling and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the co-editor of Lasorda's Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation, Dodger Blue 1958 and The Hardball Times. She currently contributes to True Blue LA. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.