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Exclusive Dave Stewart Interview

by Keith Glab, BaseballEvolution.com
July 25, 2007

Dave Stewart held a contest of skill over at NBX.com in which various baseball websites competed in their points-based Fantasy Sportsbook.  Baseball Evolution entered, and guess who won?  We've been in the prognostication business for years, and certainly weren't going to be bested by some Johnny-come-lately blog. The reward for our win?  An exclusive interview with Dave Stewart himself.    

Dave Stewart enjoyed a terrific 17-year major league career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies, Oakland A's, and Toronto Blue Jays.  His career took off when he added a forkball to his repertoire and became a starting pitcher in Oakland, under the tutelage of pitching coach Dave Duncan.  Stew had a knack for stepping up his game in pressure situations, as he boasts a 7-1 career record against Roger Clemens and held hitters to just a .238 batting average with runners in scoring position (.215 with two outs).  He also played on three World Series champions, and compiled a 10-4 record in 18 postseason starts.

Since his playing days, Stew has worked as a pitching coach, front office executive, and player agent.  His Throwin' Heat column appears regularly on NBX.com.

Dave Stewart's Career Statistics  

Baseball Evolution: Why do you think that you enjoyed more success as a starter than as a reliever in your career?

Dave Stewart: I was a better starter than reliever because I had been a lifetime starter in the minor leagues. I knew the routine and how to stay prepared. Relieving was a different thing for me: learning how to warm up, making sure if you got up on a given day and didn't get in a game you would be fresh for the next day. Starting and relieving are two different beasts.

BE: Please explain Dave Duncan's impact upon your career.

Stew: Dave Duncan helped me most by giving me a clear plan of approaching hitters. He is the best at mental preparation. Coming into a game, I understood what and who my opposition was, both strengths and weaknesses. I had a idea of what to look for in certain situations, and what I needed to do in certain situations.

BE: What makes a pitcher clutch?  How did you consistently step up your performance in high-pressure situations?

Stew: Pitching in high pressure situations is a state of mind. I enjoyed being in playoff and World Series games. The pressure is all in your mind, what you want and imagine it to be is what it will be. I took those situations and made them minimal, like they were nothing. Most of the hitters are guys that I've faced or seen before at one point or another. Reach into your memory and I'm sure you can see the guy that's stepping to the plate. Hopefully you've had some success against him, if not, hope you have some good scouting reports.

BE: Which of your pitches would you usually turn to with the game on the line?

Stew: With the game on the line, you can't use just one pitch. My bread and butter was my fastball, and everything else worked off that. Each situation and hitter will dictate what you do at a certain time.

BE: Was your trademark glare on the mound intended to intimidate batters?

Stew: The glare was not practiced. I would get into the game situations, and when that happens, there comes a level of concentration that most can only imagine but can never achieve. You become what you are doing, and that is what you see on my face.

BE: Do you feel that you were robbed of the Cy Young Award in any of your 20-win seasons?

Stew: To say robbed is not a good statement. I say that because there are obvious arguments for the candidates that won. I would look at the statistics in '87 and '90. In those years, you will clearly see that I was statistically the better pitcher. Now there are a lot of components to picking the winner. In the case of the '87 winner [Roger] Clemens, he won I believe because his team was in contention for the division, he had won the year before, and I was at that time an unknown in this arena. In '90, the votes were split between my teammates [Bob] Welch who was the winner that year, [Dennis] Eckersley, who I believe placed second, and Clemens was third that year. What a joke in '90. Me placing 4th. My numbers were clearly better than Welch's other than the 27 wins; in every category I killed the league.  The proof is there. I couldn't overcome the 27 wins, [but] that doesn't explain not placing second above the other two guys.

[Note: Stewart actually finished 3rd in the 1990 voting behind Welch and Clemens.  Eckersley finished 5th]

BE: Your success against Roger Clemens is well known, but were there any star hitters that you remember dominating?

Stew: I had good success against most of the star hitters in the league. That is not an unusual event with any number one starter in the league. The good hitters get fat on the lambs in the rotation, not the aces.

BE: We crunched some numbers, and it turns out that you went 78-44 with a 3.14 ERA in California ballparks.  What was it that made you so successful in your home state?

Stew: I never knew what my numbers were in any park, let alone west coast parks. I'd be interested to know what I did in the rest of the parks.

Dave Stewart's Career Splits

BE: Was there one catcher with whom you worked particularly well in your career?

Stew: I had good success with a few catchers in my time. I had a real good relationship with Ron Hassey. He was smart back there, made it easy for me to pitch with runners on base. I consider the good catchers to be guys that can take a game over with runners on base. As a pitcher it makes a game a lot easier to pitch if you can concentrate with runners on base. That's where having a guy that you can trust to put the right fingers down is important.

BE: Please list the five best players that you have been teammates with.

Stew: Rickey Henderson, Paul Molitor, Carney Lansford, Dave Henderson, and Davey Lopes.

BE:  Will Toronto ever fall in love with the Blue Jays again?

Stew: I'm not sure that Toronto will ever love the Jays again. Toronto is a great city, great fans, and they have been through the tough times and have seen the highest of times in the sport with the consecutive series wins. The city is in a period of time where the Yankees and Boston are now the powers in the league. I believe the Jays can win again, and if that happens the city will love them again.

BE:  Please give us a scouting report of your former client, Chad Billingsley.   

Stew: Chad Billingsley is still my client.  He is a very confident young pitcher. That is his biggest weapon, his confidence. He has great talent, great makeup, and good stuff. He can get you out with one of two pitches: Fastball and breaking ball. He now has a cutter, too. Look out, league.


Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Keith resides in Chicago, Illinois and can be reached at keith@baseballevolution.com.

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