Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • Kohl Stewart's Abbreviated Start, His Velocity, and Strikeouts

    On Saturday, the Twins' 2013 first round draft pick, Kohl Stewart, had his last start of the first half of the season for the Cedar Rapids Kernels.

    He was originally scheduled to pitch on Sunday, but had his start moved up a day so that he'd have two days of rest before Tuesday's Midwest League All-Star game. Stewart completed four shutout innings, throwing 69 pitches at Burlington hitters before calling it a night. The innings weren't perfectly clean, however. Stewart worked out of a bit of trouble in both the third and fourth innings.


    Kohl Stewart

    After the game, Kernels pitching coach Ivan Arteaga explained Stewart's abbreviated start went as planned.

    “That was the plan,” Arteaga said. “If he was going to pitch on regular rest, his regular outing, was at 75-80 pitches. That was the plan for today, to keep him down so he could be able to throw in the All-Star Game.”

    With the Kernels eliminated from contention for postseason qualification in the first half of the Midwest League season, Arteaga said it was important that Stewart be used in a way that he'd get an opportunity to pitch in Tuesday's MWL All-Star Game.

    “He’s been on a pitch count all year, so we believed that in order for him to represent the Kernels and represent the Minnesota Twins and enjoy his time in the All-Star Game, he needed to be ready to pitch,” explained Arteaga. “We didn’t feel comfortable having him pitch on one day’s rest.”

    Those plans were nearly waylayed in the fourth inning when a line drive deflected off of Stewart's hip in to right field. But Stewart remained in the game and got the final two outs of the inning before calling it a night.

    Arteaga indicated he was happy with Stewart's night, as he has been with his season thus far.

    “He got hit a little bit and the ball deflected off of him on the right hip. But he should be fine. He went four innings. He managed to put zeros up there. He's been doing that.

    “We're very happy with his performance and the way he's handled himself. He had a heck of a first half and we hope he can continue doing that.”

    Stewart talked to reporters after the game and answered questions on a number of topics, including his performance on Saturday, his All-Star break plans and just how important strikeouts are (or aren't) to him at this point.

    On the line drive that caught him on the hip:

    “I think I got it just right where I was turning. Tried to avoid it. Just grazed me.”

    On moving his start up a day:

    “Yeah they bumped me up. They wanted me to throw in the All-Star Game.

    “I was switched from the day before (the All-Star break), so I figured I wouldn't (be able to pitch in the All-Star Game), but they made it a priority for me pitch in that game.

    "That was the plan, to treat that (Tuesday) as my bullpen day. Hopefully, I can bounce back after two days (rest). I've never done that before. I don't think it's a problem.”

    On going home after the All-Star Game before re-joining the Kernels:

    "They want me to go see a diabetes doctor and this is the only time I can really do it. So I'll probably fly out of West Michigan to home, go see my doctor, then meet them in Kane County.

    "I don't think I'll make a start there. I think I'll maybe start in Peoria, the next road trip. We have another off day between those two trips so that gives me enough time to catch back up. So I'm going to be gone for about six days I guess.”

    Stewart was asked if the doctor visit is indicative of problems with his diabetes:

    “No, no, no. It's just you're supposed to see a doctor every three months now and I haven't seen one since spring training. So the whole time, we were looking at the All-Star break as the time when I would go do that.

    "I'm just going to go home and see my original doctor. It's just something you've got to do every three months. That's just kind of the easiest time to do it.”

    Stewart's fastball consistently registered 93-94 on the Kernels' scoreboard on Saturday. The board is generally considered to register about 2 mph below actual pitch speed. He was asked if he felt he has added a bit of velocity recently.

    “The hardest thing for me right now is, I think I can reach back and get that when I want it, but it's not the (priority). I want to get ahead, get 0-1, get 0-2. I think the velo is pretty normal. That gun out there (on the Cedar Rapids scoreboard) is pretty inconsistent.

    “That's the thing I'm kind of trying to handle right now is when to go get it and when to not. When to get ahead of guys and when to put them away with that fastball, because I should be able to.

    "Honestly, I knew I was on kind of a super low pitch count today so I was trying to get guys out.

    "When guys got on base, I was paying way too much attention to runners. Me and Ivan talked about it. I was trying to look guys back and trying to pitch all in the same motion and I wasn't even really picking up my target and making the pitch.

    “But it was good to get out of those two innings. It's going to happen every now and then. That was a big double play that Vielma and Walker turned in that fourth inning.

    "Then to get out of that third inning, too, without any runs and keep us in the game was big. I wish I hadn't thrown as many pitches in that short of time.”

    Finally, there has been some concern among a segment of the fan base with regard to Stewart's modest strikeout rate this summer. He was asked how important strikeouts are to him.

    “I don't know how important they are but it's a number that everybody's going to look at. That's the thing that me and Ivan are working on right now actually, because I've had a lot of guys where I want them. It's just about making that one pitch.

    “I think I have those pitches that I need that get guys to strike out with. It's about throwing the slider in the right spot. It's not just about throwing the slider as hard as I can and getting guys out with it.

    “People are going to want to see more of it, but as a pitcher trying to keep my feet in the game, it's not something I should be paying attention to. I think that the more I work with him, the more those types of things will come, but I can't really worry about it on the mound. That's not really what I'm trying to do.

    “I'm a guy that's kind of is going to pound the zone and ask you to put the ball in play before I start worrying about trying to pitch around guys. But as long as I keep getting guys out, people pushing the ball in to the ground, it's just as good in my opinion. That's one thing I've learned, is how to be efficient and put guys away.

    “It's funny, whenever me and Garver (Kernels catcher Mitch Garver) want to put a guy away, we can. Then we do. But then guys come up and it's all about pounding the zone and getting ahead and if they want to get themselves out, let them get themselves out.

    “That's a number people are going to look at and want me to strike more guys out. I understand that. But I think the more that me and (Ivan) work at it, the more it will come.”
    Comments 14 Comments
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Nice interview. I think he'll figure it out.

      The best strikeout pitchers don't pitch around guys though, they also pound the zone. They throw pitches the batter either can't hit or don't expect. Phil Hughes isn't pitching around guys.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      "Stewart was asked if the doctor visit is indicative of problems with his diabetes:

      “No, no, no. It's just you're supposed to see a doctor every three months now and I haven't seen one since spring training. So the whole time, we were looking at the All-Star break as the time when I would go do that. "

      I hope Kohl doesn't keep getting asked this question. Can confirm I also visit the doctor every three months as part of my care. Just a normal thing for someone with diabetes.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Huge Stewart fan and love the interview.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Great job, JC. Lots of clarification on just where Kohl is at.

      Just wondering, have you seen enough of him this year to determine if his velocity has, in fact, ticked up a notch ( very encouraging, if true) and just how much he's putting away that slider for the future?
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      It really sounds like he trusts Arteaga. I'm impressed with the maturity he shows in knowing that he has to trust the plan for him.
    1. SD Buhr's Avatar
      SD Buhr -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Just wondering, have you seen enough of him this year to determine if his velocity has, in fact, ticked up a notch ( very encouraging, if true) and just how much he's putting away that slider for the future?
      It really is hard to say on the velocity because, as he said, the gun on the CR scoreboard is not terribly accurate. We tend to add 2 mph to what we see on the board when we estimate what a guy is throwing, but that method is anything but reliable. I don't recall him sitting as consistently in the mid 90s earlier in the year as he is now. Then again, it's been about 35 degrees warmer lately than it was in his April starts.

      He's throwing the slider now. It's not getting heavy use, but it's a part of his game now. And it's a pretty darn good one.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Great interview! Very mature responses! I think pitch efficiency is vastly underrated. I prefer young guys working on command. The strikeouts will come.
    1. TNTwinsFan's Avatar
      TNTwinsFan -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      Nice interview. I think he'll figure it out.

      The best strikeout pitchers don't pitch around guys though, they also pound the zone. They throw pitches the batter either can't hit or don't expect. Phil Hughes isn't pitching around guys.
      Isn't this what Verlander says he does as well?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Great interview. Thanks to Kohl and the Twins for making him available, and to Jim for the work. Informative for sure.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      There's a little more background on Stewart's diabetes in this article:

      http://www.thegazette.com/subject/sp...xcels-20140616


      Been dealing w/ it since 3rd grade so for 10 or 11 years, I'd guess.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      I feel like the strikeout comment is a bunch of fluff. He wants them, hes just being modest about it. He seemed like he had more of a cocky attitude after the draft last year, I wonder where that went?
    1. twinsbaby's Avatar
      twinsbaby -
      C'mon Stewart. Strikeout rate couldn't be taught by anyone, that was your ability.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsbaby View Post
      C'mon Stewart. Strikeout rate couldn't be taught by anyone, that was your ability.
      Did he bully you in high school or something? There's more to this site; you should check it out.
    1. SD Buhr's Avatar
      SD Buhr -
      Yeah, right, cuz there's really no difference at all between striking out HS kids and striking out 22 year old professional ballplayers. At least nothing that a professional pitching coach could possibly help out with.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.