Gavin Stone has been the talk of Los Angeles Dodgers Spring Training. The right-hander, after rocketing up the farm system in 2022, has followed that up with an impressive body of work in his first action with the big-league club.
This spring, Stone is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 14 strikeouts in four games (6.2 innings). He's allowed just five hits and two walks. Yup, right in line with his incredible 1.48 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 168 strikeouts in 26 games (121.2 innings) in 2022 as he jumped from High-A to Triple-A.
Because of the many questions surrounding the Dodgers rotation, some fans were hopeful the organization would allow Stone to take the leap and make the Opening Day roster. The 24-year-old is handling MLB hitters at the moment and isn't exactly getting any younger!
It's probably a longshot for Stone to come north with the team on March 30, but manager Dave Roberts acknowledged there will be some sort of avenue for Stone to make his MLB debut in 2023.
If he's comfortable enough being that candid, then you'd have to imagine the wait won't be too long. A month of lights-out play at Triple-A OKC might do the trick ... because what else will Stone have to prove after that? He already mowed through the competition in six starts last year.
Dodgers starting rotation if Gavin Stone is added to the mix
Though Stone has yet to make an official start this spring, it's been made clear he's building up for the Triple-A campaign, which makes sense because his 121.2 innings marked a career high in 2022 (and his previous was 91 innings the season prior). He needs more of a track record with longevity, and if he's going to be a starter with the Dodgers, he'll need to fortify that aspect of his player profile.
Let's say Stone takes six weeks to build up in the minors before getting the call to the Dodgers. How might he fit into the rotation plans?
You might wonder if this would make Ryan Pepiot and/or Michael Grove expendable, but we wouldn't go that far just yet. Each of the last two seasons, all of Kershaw, Gonsolin, May and Syndergaard have been saddled with injury issues -- and fairly serious ones. The Dodgers know better than anybody that you can never have enough pitching depth.
Stone getting the nod as a spot starter when the Dodgers are inevitably dealing with IL stints is probably the most likely scenario. Then you have a situation where one of Pepiot or Grove are underperforming and Stone is brought in to compete for their spot. And then there's the dream scenario in which most of the Dodgers' starting options perform well, but they still want Stone as a part of the future picture, so they sell high on one or more assets via trade in order to make room.
Don't count on that, though. With Gonsolin's ankle, Kershaw's inability to stay healthy for a full season since 2015, May in need of building back his strength for a full campaign, and Syndergaard dealing with velocity issues, Stone might be more of a savior than anything else when he's eventually called upon.