'Riding the wave': Tigers' Christin Stewart feels like he's ready to break out
Detroit — The results haven’t been anywhere near what he wants or expects from himself. But the truth is, Christin Stewart doesn’t feel like he’s struggling.
“It’s weird because I feel good at the plate,” he said. “I’ve been stringing together some long at-bats. Just not getting the results I want, but that’s part of it.”
Stewart is hitting .184, slugging .391 with three homers and 14 RBIs. He’s 4 for 33 with 10 strikeouts since coming off the injured list on May 9. But, in the last two games, he’s hit four balls with an exit velocity of 97 mph or harder and been rewarded with just one hit.
“It’s part of the game, that’s all it is,” he said. “Just stick to my routine and trust it. I’m going to get out of it. Just trust what I do every day and stick to the process. It’s a game of failure and adversity. I am still having fun. I love being out there playing and competing.”
Stewart has been getting beat by fastballs, which is surprising. Pitchers are throwing him fastballs 60% of the time, according to Statcast data, and he’s 6 for 48 (.125) with a .292 slugging percentage and a 31 percent strikeout rate.
“The big thing for me isn’t really the pitch, it’s the location,” Stewart said. “I look at zone more than the pitch. I try to pick a zone I want the ball to be in instead of sitting on a certain pitch. When you do that, when you sit on certain pitches, you start guessing.
“I don’t like to do that.”
Typical of hitters who are grinding at the plate, Stewart is finding himself behind in the count often, and a lot of borderline pitches on the edges of the strike zone have been going against him lately.
“I’m swinging at a few pitches out of the zone, for sure,” he said. “But also I don’t feel like I’m getting some of the calls I want. That’s part of it. The umpires all have their own zone. You can never put it on the umpire. It’s you in the box. I never put anything on the umpire.
“I just have to be aggressive, especially if I’m behind in the count. You have to expand the zone more than you usually do.”
That he feels comfortable in the batter’s box, that he feels like he’s seeing pitches, having competitive at-bats and 35 percent of the balls he puts in play are hit hard, bodes well for Stewart to heat up sooner than later.
“Just ride the wave,” he said. “But you try to make the wave less steep, keep it more like a plateau.”
About the fifth starter
The assumption was that left-hander Nick Ramirez would fill the final opening in the Tigers rotation, perhaps getting a start this weekend against the Mets.
That assumption was premature.
“We’ve not listed Ramirez as a starter,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said before the game. “We said everybody was a possibility, but you don’t know what our general manager (Al Avila) has up his sleeve. He’s got all kinds of stuff going on.”
Whether that means there’s another starter coming up from Toledo later in the week (Matt Hall or non-roster right-hander Tim Adelman would be possibilities), or Avila is trying to sign somebody outside the organization, remains to be seen.
In the meantime, Ramirez will work out of the bullpen.
Around the horn
Jordan Zimmermann (sprained UCL) threw flat-ground from 120 feet Tuesday and felt no discomfort. He said he will repeat the long-toss on Thursday and if everything goes well, he might start throwing off the mound for the first time since he went on the injured list April 26.
… Reliever Buck Farmer has not allowed a run in eight of his last nine outings, posting a 2.16 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in that span.
…Rule 5 reliever Reed Garrett, whom the Tigers’ designated for assignment last week, was reclaimed by the Texas Rangers.
Marlins at Tigers
First pitch: 7:10 p.m., Wednesday
TV/radio: FSD, 97.1
RHP Jose Urena (1-6, 4,44), Marlins: His money pitch has betrayed him a bit this season. He throws a sinker (95-96 mph) more than 60 percent of the time, but opponents are hitting .321 against it with a .489 slugging percentage. Odd that a pitcher with his tools has only a 15% strikeout rate.
LHP Daniel Norris (2-2, 4.50), Tigers: He continues to make steady progress, even though the home run ball bit him last time out. The next step for Norris is to sharpen his command. He’s working too much in the center of the plate, as evidenced by the opponents’ batting average against his four-seam and two-seam fastballs — .330, .385.