MLB Hoosiers (Sept. 18): Reds Play Longball With Jonathan Stiever in 2nd Career Start

Tom Brew

Jonathan Stiever has good stuff, and there's a good reason why he's one of the highest-rated pitching prospects in baseball. But the Chicago White Sox rookie learned a lot about location and finishing pitches on Friday night, giving up four home runs in less than three innings in a 7-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

Nick Castellanos, Joey Votto and Tucker Barnhart all hit solo home runs, and the Jesse Winker went deep with a three-run homer to chase Stiever early in his second career start. All four homers were deep blasts, and Stiever wasn't fooling anyone. According to StatCast, during his 64 pitches, he didn't strike out a single hitter, and didn't even get a single batter to swing and miss.

“As far as the mechanics go, I just wasn't finishing my pitches,” said Stiever, who is one of five former Indiana baseball players currently playing in the major leagues. “I was just cutting myself off, I felt like, and that wasn’t really letting me finish through the zone and that caused me to miss over the plate with some fastballs when I was trying to go away to a lefty. 

"The same with the slider. I noticed it a lot, and that was a pitch that was really just causing me trouble. I just wasn't able to finish that pitch, get late movement on it. It just kept backing up on me pretty much the whole night, and obviously the results showed that.”

It was a good learning experience for Stiever, the former Hoosiers from Cedarburg, Wis.,  who's never pitched above Class A in his brief minor-league experience. He got through a first-inning jam in his major-league debut last Sunday and then retired nine batters in a row. He got five in a row out after that first home run on Friday night, but then the third inning got away from him, giving up five more runs.

“That kind of puts a damper on everything, right out of the chute,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “(Tyler) Mahle, their starter, was actually pretty good. His ball has tremendous life, obviously kept us at bay.''

The White Sox, who clinched a playoff spot on Thursday, are catching the Reds at a bad time. They've won six in a row now and are tied for a playoff spot, too. 

“I would refer to that as being more of the combination than the emotional drain (of clinching a day earlier). But is there a truly emotional drain for us? For example, what happened? Sure, there's a little bit of it. But that's not going to be the overriding issue. You had a young man who threw very well against us today, and on the other side, we gave up a few runs early."

Veteran pitcher Gio González replaced Stiever and the two of them talked a lot about what went wrong during Stiever's outing.  The old-timer helping out the kid.

“Gio González came in after he threw and kind of went over a lot of stuff with me, which means a lot,” Stiever said. “Sort of different things, just how it is a learning experience. You’ve got to be able to grow and not get too down on it, even though the results were not there. Sort of focus on what can you do next in your process just to get better.”

Hoosiers in the Pros on Friday

  • Caleb Baragar, San Francisco Giants: Baragar pitched a scoreless ninth inning in the Giants' 6-0 loss to the Oakland A's. He got the three outs on just eight pitches and now has gone 12 consecutive outings without giving up a run. 
  • Alex Dickerson, San Francisco Giants: Dickerson was 0-for-3 with a walk in the 6-0 loss to Oakland. Dickerson, who's been hot lately, With the loss, the Giants fell into the a tie for the final wild-card spot with just over a week to go in the regulard season. 
  • Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs: Schwarber was 1-for-3, getting a sixth-inning single in the Cubs' 1-0 win over the Minnesota Twins. It was just Schwarber's second hit in the past 12 games, where he's gone 2-for-34. Despite the hitting woes, the Cubs continue to win. That's five in a row now and they are 31-20, are still in first place in the NL Central, leading the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds by 5.5 games with nine to go. They are the only team in the division with a winning record.
  • Aaron Slegers, Tampa Bay Rays: Slegers did not pitch in the Rays' 2-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles. With the win, the Rays are now 34-18 and have the best record in the American League. They are in first place in the AL East with eight games to go, holding on to a 3.5-game lead over the New York Yankees, who have been on fire of late, winning nine games in a row. The Rays won the season series against the Yankees, so they hold a tiebreaker, too.
  • * Kyle Hart, Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox placed Hart on the 45-day injury list on Tuesday, so his season is done with Boston. He struggled in his major-league debut, appearing in four games — three starts — but allowing 19 runs and 24 hits in just 11 innings.
  • * Josh Phegley, Chicago Cubs: Phegley was designated for assignment by the Cubs and was sent to their alternate site on Sept. 3.