How I Met Your Aeros: Bryce Stowell
By Jim Piascik
July 1, 2012
If your name isn’t Chris Perez, Vinnie Pestano, or Joe Smith, being a member of the Bullpen Mafia has been a less-than-stellar occupation in 2012. Players such as Jairo Asencio (5.96 ERA/4.51 FIP/ 4.01 xFIP), Rafael Perez (3.52/5.28/5.29), Scott Barnes (7.71/5.92/5.31), Nick Hagadone (6.08/4.67/4.26), Tony Sipp (6.66/5.28/3.81), and Dan Wheeler (8.76/7.61/7.04) have sent the Indians searching for more bullpen depth.
Luckily for Cleveland, they have plenty of bullpen depth in the minors, and Akron Aeros reliever Bryce Stowell is one of the best. Not that he’s spending much time thinking about it right now.
“It sounds so cliché, but you play this game because of the dream of one day playing in the big leagues, so obviously that’s your end goal. That’s the main thing; that’s the pie at the end of the tunnel. In order to get there, you can’t focus on it. You have to focus on today, the here and the now, going out today and doing the best I can to help the team win, whatever that might be. Then once today’s done, go to tomorrow.”
Living in the here and now has worked out especially well for Stowell in 2012. In his 15 appearances so far, he’s gone 18.1 innings, struck out 31 batters, only walked 4, and maintained a 2.95 ERA and 1.89 FIP. The only knock on Stowell’s season was his DL trip back in May. He missed 22 games due to a right forearm strain, but he’s feeling much better now.
“It’s been about a month since I’ve been back now and it’s been good. It’s been a good month as far as strengthening the elbow and everything is just falling into place. My velocity’s back to where I feel comfortable and it’s still a long season to go – we still haven’t hit the All-Star break yet – so the more you can stay healthy and stay within your approach, hopefully everything else will fall into place. I haven’t gone back to back outings [yet]. Right now, I’ve been going a day rest and then throwing. It’s something where I’m looking forward to the rest of the season as far as proving to the team and the organization that whenever they call I’ll be ready to throw. I’m really excited about the opportunity of being back. It’s never fun, being on the DL … [but] I feel almost back to a full 100% and it feels pretty good.”
In order to have everything fall into place, Stowell has worked on adding a changeup to his fastball and slider pitching mix. So far, that move would have to qualify as a complete success.
“[The changeup] is giving hitters a different look at me and hopefully I can continue to stay consistent with that and keep working on it … You just try to stay consistent with everything. You realize that sometimes things aren’t going to go your way, you might get hit a little bit here and there, but the more you can stay consistent with your approach and what you’re doing, that’s all you can do, and just having the right mindset. Right now, I feel really good with how I’m throwing the ball and sometimes you get hit a little bit, so it’s part of the game and you’ve just got to stick with it and have fun with it.”
One would think that Stowell having fun with the game would include relishing striking out opposing batters, but that isn’t the case. Despite owning a 12.3 SO/9 rate for his minor league career, Stowell claims that he doesn’t go out to the mound with strikeouts on the brain.
“Strikeouts mean pitches, so the more strikeouts you have, the more pitches you’re throwing. The more efficient you can be with your pitches and your pitch count, I think that’s huge. But yeah, sometimes you go out there and you strike them out, and that’s cool. Some people look at it like a cool thing and other times it’s just getting the guys out. My job is to go out there and get outs however I can and help the team.”
Stowell continues to bide his time and hone his craft in AA-ball, waiting for the chance at a promotion to Columbus and/or Cleveland. But in the end, Stowell knows that it will all be worth it.
“When you look back on it when it’s all said and done, you’ll be like ‘wow, there were a lot of days I put together to get to this place.’ … Hopefully I can do what I can and progress every day and see what happens. We’ll see how it goes.”
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What's not to like?
As bad as some of the Tribe middle relievers have been this year I would not be surprised to see both Stowell and Cody Allen on the big team next year if they stay healthy. I'm still bummed about the C.C. Lee TJ surgery, but he should be back in 2014.
The Indians are putting together an awesome bullpen. This Esmil Rogers guy just keeps getting it done, too. I keep waiting for the clock to strike 12 and his fairy tale ride to end, but so far so good.