This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com
Between 1978 and 1986, Dave Stewart bounced from the major leagues to the minors, from the rotation to the bullpen, and was traded and released before finding his stride and dominating the major leagues for four seasons and playing a role in three World Championship titles(and playing in two other World Series) before hanging it up in 1995.
Taken by the Los Angeles Dodgers as the last pick in the 16th round of the 1975 June Amateur Draft, Stewart won 59 games in 6 full minor league seasons before reaching the major leagues for good during the 1981 season. During the first three full seasons of Stewart’s career, he maintained a 3.13 ERA while starting 23 games and notching 15 saves out of the bullpen. He was a member of the 1981 World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers, pitching in two games. In August of 1983, the Dodgers shipped Stewart to the Texas Rangers, who shuttled the righty back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen for parts of three seasons before trading him to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1985.
Stewart struggled towards the end of his time in Texas and further spiraled downward with the Phillies. His ERA skyrocketed over 6.00 during his time in Philly, and the team released him in May of 1986. Two weeks later the Oakland Athletics signed Dave Stewart and his career changed forever.
By July of 1986, Dave Stewart was inserted into the regular rotation and threw four complete games by the end of the season, including a shut out against the Baltimore Orioles. Starting in 1987 Stewart made a regular turn in the rotation for the next four seasons, leading the league in games started from 1988-1990. He won at least twenty games each year from 1987-1990 and routinely finished in the top 4 for American League Cy Young voting as well.
During the four year dominance, Stewart threw 41 complete games(along with seven shut outs), averaged 265 innings pitched, maintained a 3.20 ERA and a 1.241 WHIP to go along with a 121 ERA+. During this same period, he won 7 games in the postseason as the Athletics reached the World Series in three straight years. This period was capped off with Stewart being named the ALCS MVP as he held the Boston Red Sox to 2 runs in 16 innings.
In a March 1991 Baseball Digest article, Dave Newhouse asked the question, “Why Have Pitching Awards Eluded Dave Stewart?” Click here to check it out!
Beginning with the 1991 season, Stewart’s numbers began to decline. Though he led the league with 35 starts, he also led the league with 130 runs allowed. His 5.18 ERA was the highest of his career going back to 1985, and his stretch of winning 20 games a year came to an end. He rebounded in 1992, helping the A’s back to the postseason where they lost against the eventual World Champion Toronto Blue Jays.
During the off-season, Stewart signed a two year deal with the Blue Jays, and was a key player for their attempt to repeat as world champs. Though his regular season was less impressive, he dominated the Chicago White Sox in the ALCS and earned his second ALCS MVP honor with a 2.03 ERA in 13+ innings. He struggled in the World Series, but the Blue Jays went on to win their back to back championships anyway.
Stewart struggled in his second year with the Blue Jays and returned to the Oakland Athletics for the 1995 season. Over his last two seasons in the big leagues, the veteran righty had an ERA of 6.26, allowing 149 runs in 214 innings. In retirement Stewart worked as a pitching coach with the San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers and Toronto Blue Jays before starting his own business as a sports agent.
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