Stephenson (back) was able to complete a long-toss session off flat ground in the outfield Sunday prior to the Rockies' 3-2 loss to the Dodgers, the Associated Press reports. The right-handed reliever has been on the shelf since late June with upper-back tightness. He could be ready to get back on the mound for a bullpen session during the upcoming week.
The Rockies placed Stephenson on the 10-day injured list Monday with upper-back tightness. Lefty Ben Bowden was summoned from Triple-A Albuquerque to fill Stephenson's spot in the Colorado bullpen. Over 27 relief appearances in his first season with the Rockies, Stephenson has posted a 4.56 ERA and 1.56 WHIP across 23.2 innings.
Stephenson and the Rockies agreed to a one-year, $805,000 deal Friday, avoiding arbitration. Stephenson came over in a trade from the Reds in November. Where exactly he fits into the Rockies' bullpen depends on whether or not he looks more like he did in 2019 (3.76 ERA) or 2020 (9.90 ERA).
The Rockies acquired Stephenson and outfielder Jameson Hannah from the Reds on Wednesday in exchange for pitchers Jeff Hoffman and Case Williams, Robert Murray of FanSided.com reports. The deal features two MLB pieces in Stephenson and Hoffman and two prospects in Hannah and Williams changing organizations. Like Hoffman, Stephenson is a former first-round draft pick who transitioned from starting to relief duty early on during his big-league career. A back strain limited Stephenson to just 11 innings with the Reds in 2020, but when he was healthy late in 2019, he showed some signs of dominance as a late-inning arm. However, even if Stephenson is able to avoid the injured list in Colorado, pitching at Coors Field will likely hurt his chances of delivering the type of ratios that will be useful in fantasy.
Stephenson gave up three runs in the ninth inning while retiring only one batter against the Cubs on Friday, forcing the Reds to turn to Raisel Iglesias to close out the game. Stephenson had entered the game protecting a 6-2 lead, but three hits -- two of them homers -- later and the Reds were hanging on for dear life. This might prevent the Reds from having Iglesias available for more than a batter or two in Saturday's doubleheader.
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