After a nerve-wracking first inning, where manager Ricky Renteria had the bullpen up in fear of Jonathan Stiever blasting through his single-inning pitch count, the rookie used an out (and replay delay) to gather his wits and acquit himself really well in his first pro start above High-A ball.
"After just finding out a couple of days ago, nerves were definitely there," Stiever explained. "Obviously, the first inning was pretty rough. That throw out at second base by McCann was huge. It gave me a little re-set, he gave me a second to slow my heart rate down."
Both Renteria and third baseman Yoán Moncada noted the change in composure they saw in Stiever after his rough patch in the first.
"There wasn’t much there in the first, so I had to settle in and find my mechanics," Stiever said. "Getting ahead with the fastball [was key]."
Think about it for a second: Not only has Stiever, who battled injury in the spring that slowed his 2020, never pitched about High-A Winston-Salem — he hadn't pitched in a "real" game in more than a year!
That makes his line of 3 ⅔ innings, two hits, one run, two walks and three Ks not just a strong start (his game score of 54 tops the White Sox average for the season, 52.8), but a fairly miraculous one.
"It’s exciting," Stiever said of getting his first taste of the bigs. "Getting down to the end of the season, the team’s been playing great. Though the team hasn't told Stiever whether he'll get another start, work out of the pen or head back to Schaumburg, he's ready for anything.
"I'm looking forward to doing whatever I can."
Jonathan Stiever video courtesy of the Chicago White Sox.