How Dodgers' Gavin Stone will maintain his effectiveness as his importance grows

Los Angeles Dodgers v Toronto Blue Jays
Los Angeles Dodgers v Toronto Blue Jays / Cole Burston/GettyImages

Plans change over the course of a long season, but that moment arrived sooner than the Los Angeles Dodgers would have liked; they've already had to significantly adjust their 2024 starting rotation due to injuries and load management concerns.

Such movement has made the performance of Gavin Stone more important, and while it is not known how long the second-year Dodger will be asked to contribute quality frames, it’s clear that both his strengths and weaknesses have been amplified by time.

Dodgers youngster Gavin Stone must maintain effectiveness as role shifts

The 25-year old went 2-1 with a 4.68 ERA through his first five starts of the season. His most recent outing against the Toronto Blue Jays saw him toss a career-best seven innings of one-run baseball, strike out two batters, and surrender only two hits. 

Stone’s latest start perfectly encapsulates what he’s able to do well, as well as where there is room for improvement.

According to Baseball Savant, Stone ranks in the 82nd percentile in terms of Hard Hit % and the 79th percentile in terms of Barrel %. It can be said that, when Stone’s right, he’s changing speeds and trying to induce soft contact in short at-bats.

Of course, this is a skill that most pitchers look to craft at different points, but Stone has struggled to limit fly balls and punch batters out. He presently ranks in the 17th percentile in K % and has a Line Drive % of 30.4. Additionally, the Lake City native ranks in the 26th percentile in BB %.

All told, while Stone has had some nice moments this year, it's evident that he’ll have to limit both walks and line drives. Even if he never becomes a “strikeout” pitcher, avoiding walks may lessen the damage when opposing hitters hit line drives and fly balls.

Even with Walker Buehler perhaps trending in the right direction, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto beginning to find himself in MLB, LA’s rotation is still not in pristine condition. Inconsistency has plagued the group early. 

The Dodgers’ starters recorded a respectable 3.68 ERA through the first 31 games, but it wouldn’t be absurd to believe they could reach another level. 

This would be especially true if Stone could elevate his game. With the way injuries have ravaged pitchers around baseball this year, and given that Yamamoto and Buehler will be handled carefully during the summer, his presence should remain incredibly valuable.