Preview: Twins vs. Tigers
The rookie right-hander, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft allowed three runs over 4 1/3 innings in a loss to the Tigers on Sunday but made enough of an impression on manager Paul Molitor to stay in the rotation for another turn.
“I thought for his first time he composed himself fairly well,” Molitor said after Stewart allowed three runs in 4 1/3 innings last week at Detroit. “He threw it over for the most part. Kind of, as reports indicated, not a lot of swings and misses.”
Stewart cruised through his first four innings, getting nine of 12 outs via ground balls, before running into trouble in the fifth and eventually giving way to the bullpen.
“I feel like I was executing my sinker early in the game,” Stewart said, “but there were some times where I probably needed to go to some off-speed and keep them off balance.”
Stewart’s first opportunity came when right-hander Adalberto Mejia was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a sore wrist and. Molitor said he planned to give Stewart another turn and left him on regular rest when Mejia was diagnosed this week with nerve irritation in the wrist that could keep him out the rest of the season.
“He’s shut down from throwing and he’s at a point now where until he hopefully somehow shows improvement or calming down enough to consider whenever any type of rehab will begin,” Molitor said. “I don’t want to get too speculative on when or how much he’ll be able to throw. At this point, moving forward, we’re just going to have to monitor and run some more tests after he’s shut down and see if he’s getting better results as far as the imaging.”
Mejia had a 2.01 ERA in 22 1/3 innings this season and had worked 14 innings without giving up a run — allowing only three hits during that stretch — before suffering the injury on his final pitch of an Aug. 7 outing at Cleveland.
“He’s frustrated,” Molitor said. “He worked hard to get an opportunity up here and when he did, he pitched fairly well. I think we saw glimpses last year. I think he’s just learned how to use his pitches to be most effective. Trusting the catcher. Not shaking off as much. Being able to not try to strike everybody out. I think that’s big for him. As far as being more economical with pitches to go deeper into games will be the next progression for him.”
Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire has yet to name a starter for Saturday’s game though he could slot Ryan Carpenter into the spot after the left-hander was recalled Friday from Triple-A Toledo, where he was 0-1 with a 6.39 ERA in four appearances this season.
Carpenter last pitched in the majors July 13, when he suffered a strained oblique. He has made six appearances for Toledo since coming off the DL, throwing 98 pitches his last time out.
“I think I’m progressing really nicely,” Carpenter said. “Not having any pain. That’s the main concern. Strength is pretty much almost there.”
Carpenter’s promotion also came by way of injury. Detroit put left-hander Blaine Hardy on the 10-day disabled list Friday, retroactive to Aug 14 when he gave up four runs and five hits in four innings against the Chicago White Sox.
Gardenhire was already playing with a short-handed bullpen after needing six pitchers Thursday night in the series opener but got help Friday when Matthew Boyd covered 6 1/3 innings in a 5-4 loss.