Dodgers Highlights: Gavin Stone Battles in MLB Debut, Future Up In Air
The Gavin Stone era has begun for the Dodgers and the first impression was… ok. The changeup expert might have leaned a little too much on that change up but overall he battled through 4 innings of a really good learning experience.
It’s easy to forget just how new to all of this the 24-year-old is. He was drafted in 2020 — when there was no minor league season — and at the time didn’t even have the pitch that is now his number one weapon. As a quick detour before we get into Wednesday’s outing, the pitcher spoke with DodgersNation.com earlier this spring about how his change came to be.
“I never threw a changeup in college,” Stone said. “And so when I got here, obviously, if I wanted to stay a starter, I would have needed something that went that way. And so I started throwing it, and then when I got here for my first spring training, one of the guys named Ryan Dennick, the pitching coordinator, he kind of tinkered with it a little bit and showed me a new grip, and so I’ve been throwing it the same way ever since and it’s been good so far.”
A reliever in college, the Dodgers wanted Stone to be a starter in the organization. He’s gone from 5th round draft pick to number 2 pitching prospect in the system in just three seasons and, in a way, that rapid ascent showed on Wednesday.
He fell behind to hitters early and often. His defense was certainly no help in the game, particularly in the first inning, but watching Phillies batters, there were some big league takes on Stone’s prized change up. Meaning hitters like 2021 NL MVP Bryce Harper, for example, didn’t even nibble at any offspeed pitches out of the zone.
Stone never looked lost, but it looked like what usually worked for him down in the minor league just wasn’t playing up against big leaguers.
Dave Roberts talked a bit about Gavin’s outing and particularly his biggest issue after the game.
“There were some changeups that were a ball out of hand. He was getting behind a lot. He made some good pitches but I think that they just sort of saw him.”Via SNLA
“It just wasn’t right today,” added Stone about his changeup. “Out of my hand, it didn’t feel right. Just go back to work on it.”
Importantly for the rookie, he didn’t let the first inning get away from him. He held his composure and never once had any sort of deer in the headlights look about him. Of course, that’s not surprising. Just about every Dodger asked about Stone praised his confidence on the mound. Roberts said before his debut that the pitcher “looked like he had been around a lot longer with the way that he carried himself.“
What’s Next for Gavin Stone?
The immediate future is a bit uncertain for Stone. Before Wednesday’s game, Dave Roberts was mum on whether the kid’s call up would be for one game or for an extended stretch while the team iron’s out some things with Noah Syndergaard’s mechanics. Doc only said that his debut game would play a role in what comes next.
To me, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Stone get one more start in Milwaukee next week. It honestly feels like the right call. But, obviously, I don’t get paid to make that call. However, one more start gives Gavin one more chance to impress, that is, after studying for the test as it were.
If Stone is optioned to Triple-A (which is also a highly likely move), the Dodgers can call up one more reliever before their series with the Padres in San Diego. Maybe someone like Justin Bruihl, who has been great so far this season.