Did Dodgers rush Gavin Stone's MLB debut despite promotion being the right call?

Los Angeles Dodgers v Tampa Bay Rays
Los Angeles Dodgers v Tampa Bay Rays / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

In the three games Gavin Stone has pitched since getting the call to make his MLB debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers, his offense has provided him with 28 runs of support when all was said and done. A pitcher's dream.

However, it was more of a night-sweat situation for the offense, which has had to dig itself out of a hole every single time the right-hander took the mound against the Phillies, Braves and Rays.

Though the Dodgers walked away with victories against Philadelphia and Atlanta, Stone ended up surrendering a total of 17 earned runs on 23 hits and 7 walks in just 10 total innings of work across his three outings. That's a 14.40 ERA, 5.69 FIP and 3.00 WHIP. He struck out only five batters.

LA was hoping to see progress, but Stone regressed in each start. Now it's worth wondering if his path to the big leagues was rushed, even though it seemed very obvious he was ready for the next step after climbing the ranks so quickly in 2022.

Perhaps his one year of ascension that brought fame wasn't enough evidence to portend major league success. He only logged 12 starts at Triple-A before facing the Phillies.

Did Dodgers rush Gavin Stone's MLB debut despite minor-league success?

Arguing in favor of Stone's promotion to the MLB roster, the right-hander finished 2022 with a 1.48 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 168 strikeouts in 26 games (25 starts), totaling 121.2 innings. That was across High-A, Double-A and Triple-A, with his best stint coming at OKC.

And then he followed that up with 6.2 scoreless spring training innings. He allowed just five hits and two walks while striking out 14.

On the flip side, that was a 30-game hot streak not entirely indicative of his projectability as a major league starter. He had pitched in just 28 total games between 2019 and 2020. In 2021, he was merely solid as a starter at Single-A and High-A, finishing with a 3.76 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 23 games (22 starts), totaling 91 innings. His one major positive was recording 138 strikeouts.

Stone's new pitching profile has materialized fairly quickly too, so it's not like he's been overly comfortable with his offerings for his career as a hurler. He only started throwing a changeup consistently once he began his professional career in 2021. Additionally, he only recently witnessed a velocity increase on his fastball, which still needs a bit of work, if we're to believe MLB.com's analysis: "His biggest need is to add some life to his fastball, which doesn't miss as many bats as metrics suggest it should."

On top of having to build on the location and life of his fastball, Stone's third pitch isn't necessarily an above-average one. His slider isn't yet fully refined, at least compared to his changeup. With his fastball averaging 93.7 MPH and both his changeup and slider coming in between 85-86 MPH, you can see that's not enough of a velocity disparity to throw hitters off. His fastball/slider might both lack the requisite spin rate to beat most MLB hitters (18th percentile so far).

Better days are undoubtedly ahead for Stone, but he failed his first test at the next level. Now, hopefully, the Dodgers know what to work on and refine for his next opportunity with the team.