The Dodgers' chances of acquiring another starting pitcher seem to wane a little more everyday, as developments about reportedly targeted trade pieces knock hopes down one by one. First, it was Corbin Burnes, a trade which has seemed dead in the water for a while now. Then, it was Shane Bieber, who agreed to a number to avoid arbitration with the Guardians that might be out of even the Dodgers' reach (at Bieber's current health level). Then came Dylan Cease, who the White Sox have flipped-flopped on trading throughout the offseason.
If they can't manage to find a new arm, the rotation will include Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Tyler Glasnow, Bobby Miller, and Emmet Sheehan on Opening Day, but the Dodgers will still need fifth starter and will have to look inward and depend on candidates inside the organization to step up until Walker Buehler can return. Although the Dodgers can never be counted out when it comes to securing the players they want, it's still understandable to wonder what the rotation might look like if they can't.
3 dark horse candidates for the last spot in the Dodgers' Opening Day rotation
Stone's first foray into the majors didn't go very well. The team brought him up a few times starting in May and ending in September and gave him the ball as a starter four times before putting him in the bullpen. Stone, a fifth-round draft pick for the Dodgers in 2020, hit his stride in the minor leagues in 2022 and exceeded expectations by rocketing up from High-A to Triple-A in one season while maintaining a 1.48 ERA on the year. MLB Pipeline had him ranked as the Dodgers' No. 18 prospect going into that season, but it bumped him up to No. 4 to begin 2023.
It was that momentum that led the Dodgers to give him a shot at the majors in 2023. However, over 31 innings, he accumulated a 9.00 ERA. That seemed to shake his confidence back in the minors, because he had his worst year there by far — a 4.74 ERA over 100 2/3 innings. The Dodgers continued to give him chances throughout the season, but he did give up three runs in his last appearance against the Giants.
At the moment, Stone is still on the Dodgers' 40-man roster and possibly in their active roster plans, although he would certainly be kicked back down to the minors if the Dodgers acquire a starter. With so much undecided, he could also be an option for the team to give the ball to as a fifth man if his spring training looks special. He has more major league experience than fellow prospects Nick Frasso and Landon Knack, who are expected to land in the majors in 2024 and were moved to the 40-man to protect them from the Rule 5 draft, and he could just need a little more time to get comfortable at the major league level.