Robert Stephenson continued to throw the ball well for the Louisville Bats yesterday in their double header. Taking over in the top of the 5th inning of a game that was being resumed, Stephenson threw 3.0 shutout innings where he allowed just one hit. The right hander didn’t walk anyone and he had three strikeouts. However, he would only threw those 3.0 innings and 46 pitches.
After his final inning, as he walked off the mound to the dugout he was looking at his pitching hand. When he neared the foul line he took off his glove and appeared to “pick” at his pitching hand. The camera then cut away and he was replaced at the start of the next inning. Robert Stephenson has been battling with some blister problems, and given the way he was looking at his hand, and the picking action he did seem to make following that inning, I would think it’s a good assumption that a blister either developed within the game, or one that he had had worsened and that is why he was removed from the game for the Bats.
Control was a problem for Robert Stephenson in the Major Leagues this season. Control has been a problem for him in the minor leagues in the past, too. I’ve made the comment a few times this year that how he was used in the Major Leagues this season seemed to do him a disservice. There were simply too many times where he went 5+ days without pitching, and when he did go that long between outings, he simply didn’t pitch well at all. But, when he pitched regularly, he found success.
In his first two starts with Louisville he walked eight batters in 9.0 innings over two starts. In his third start he walked two batters in 4.0 innings. That was 10 walks in 13.0 innings. Since that point, though, he has walked just two batters in 21.1 innings. He has also struck out 26 batters. The one mark on his resume over that time in the negative column is that he’s still struggled with the long ball, giving up six homers in that span.
On a regular schedule, Robert Stephenson has responded well. He’s gone to Louisville and he’s thrown strikes. Over his last four games he’s thrown lots of strikes, 68% of his pitches have been strikes. The 24-year-old is going to need to work on limiting the long ball, but what he’s doing with finding the strikezone lately has been a very positive step.