Brock Stewart was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City as the 26th man for the Dodgers before the second game of their doubleheader against the Cubs on Tuesday at Wrigley Field. It continues not only a travel-filled year for the right-hander, but also keeps up a pattern that has lasted since his major league debut in 2016.
Game 2 lineups
|P||Hill (L)||P||Montogmery (L)|
Because of Friday’s rainout both the Cubs and Dodgers were allowed an extra player on the active roster, but only for the second game of the twin bill. On doubleheaders that are scheduled with more advance time (like April 28 in San Francisco, for instance) the teams can use a 26th man for both games. The reasoning behind the difference, at least in theory, is to prevent a potential advantage for the home team, should their minor league team be closer to make travel easier to make it in time for a game after such a quick turnaround.
For Stewart, this will be his sixth stint in the majors this season. He has already been sent to the minors five times and will likely make it a sixth before Wednesday’s series finale. I can’t remember a Dodger who was optioned more than seven times in a single season. The recent standouts are Danny Coulombe, optioned six times in 2015, and Blake DeWitt, optioned five times in 2009.
Coulombe was prepared for his role by the front office in 2015.
“They told me coming into this year that I’d most likely be an up-and-down guy, so just be ready for it,” Coulombe said three years ago. “It’s a lot of traveling, but it’s better being that guy than not being that guy.”
Stewart has similarly taken his frequent trips to and from the minors in stride this season, particular after a seven-day span in May during which he was recalled and optioned twice. Per the LA Times:
“Somebody has to be that guy who is here and there, up and down, helping out the team when needed. Lately there’s been a need in the bullpen and for some starting spots. I’m happy to do it.”
Stewart this season has a 5.60 ERA in eight major league appearances, including two starts, with 14 strikeouts and eight walks in 17⅔ innings. In six Triple-A starts Stewart has a 2.55 ERA with 24 strikeouts and nine walks in 24⅔ innings.
He last pitched on Wednesday in Oklahoma City, throwing 65 pitches in three innings.
Transience is nothing new for Stewart, who made his major league debut on June 29, 2016, almost two full years ago. He was optioned four times in his rookie season, then optioned five times in 2017, the latter more noteworthy considering a shoulder injury had Stewart on the 60-day disabled list until June 7.
This is an instructive case in how minor league options work. A player has three option seasons (sometimes four, in very rare cases), but during those seasons can be sent to the minors a theoretically unlimited number of times.
With major league active roster limits expanded in September and minor league seasons pretty much over after the first week of September, hardly anyone gets optioned in the season’s final month.
So if Stewart gets optioned again on Wednesday — technically, he’ll just be “returned” to the minors since he’s sort of up on a technicality now — that will make 15 different times sent to the minors for Stewart in under eight baseball months (July & August in 2016, June through August in 2017, April through June this season) with regular rosters.
That is quite a bit of back and forth.
Rich Hill was activated from the disabled list to start the nightcap, his first major league action since leaving his May 19 start after just two pitches. Breyvic Valera was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City to make room on the active roster for Hill. Valera is 5-for-29 (.172) with four walks in 20 games in the majors this season, seeing time at second base, third base and in right field. This is the fifth time he has been sent to the minors this season, Stewart-esque.
Justin Hancock, a 27-year-old rookie right-handed pitcher, is the 26th man for the Cubs.
Game 2 info
Time: 5:05 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA