HomeMLB RumorsDodgers Name Gavin Stone Fifth Starter

Dodgers Name Gavin Stone Fifth Starter

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Dodgers right-hander Gavin Stone told members of the media, including Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, that manager Dave Roberts informed him he will break camp as the club’s fifth starter.

The rotation for the Dodgers has a lot of moving parts due to health and will likely be in flux throughout the year, but they entered Spring Training with four spots accounted for. Tyler Glasnow is a lock since he has been a borderline ace on a rate basis in recent years, though without the health to provide that production in a quantitative sense. But the Dodgers clearly believe in him, as they acquired him in a notable offseason trade and then quickly signed him to an extension that runs through 2028. Yoshinobu Yamamoto has yet to make his major league debut but parlayed his dominance in Japan into a 12-year, $325MM contract.

Bobby Miller has earned a spot after a solid showing last year, wherein he tossed 124 1/3 innings with a 3.76 ERA and solid peripherals to match. James Paxton will be there as well after he signed a one-year, $7MM pact in the offseason with incentives.

Walker Buehler could have been in line for the fifth spot but it seems he and the Dodgers have decided to slow play his season a bit. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2022 and almost returned late in 2023 but ended up not rushing and therefore sitting out the entire season. That puts him in the position of going into 2024 presumably healthy but likely with workload limitations. He threw 207 2/3 innings in 2021 but was limited to just 65 the year after before the surgery and then missed 2023. Rather than start him in the rotation and have to shut him down at some point, it seems he and the club are going to have him be a bit behind everyone else, increasing his odds of being around for a stretch run and the playoffs.

That left pitchers like Stone, Ryan Yarbrough, Michael Grove, Emmet Sheehan and others as options to take a spot behind Glasnow, Yamamoto, Miller and Paxton. Sheehan was taken out of the competition a couple of weeks ago when it was reported that he would begin the season on the injured list due to shoulder soreness.

In the end, Stone won the job thanks to some encouraging results last year and a strong performance in spring this year. He made his MLB debut in 2023 but allowed 31 earned runs in as many innings, though that’s a small sample size and also came in a fairly unstable fashion. He made four starts and four relief appearances around frequent optional assignments. He had a larger sample size of 100 2/3 innings at Triple-A, wherein he posted a 4.74 ERA. His 27.8% strikeout rate was quite strong and his 43.2% ground ball rate close to average, though his 10.7% walk rate a tad high.

Here in camp this year, he has tossed 9 2/3 innings of official action with a 0.93 ERA. He has punched out nine hitters while walking just one and allowing only one earned run. The Dodgers played an exhibition game against Team Korea today in preparation for their Seoul Series and Stone tossed 3 1/3 scoreless with eight punchouts, one walk and no hits.

He will slot into the back of the rotation for now, though the rotation will be constantly changing this year. Buehler will slot in somewhere whenever he is ramped up and ready to go. Sheehan could get back in there if he gets over his shoulder issue. Dustin May underwent flexor tendon and Tommy John revision surgery last summer and could rejoin the club at some point. Clayton Kershaw underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason and is targeting a return in the summer. Tony Gonsolin is more of a long shot since he underwent Tommy John on September 1 of last year and will probably just be nearing readiness as the 2024 season is winding down.

On top of all that, new injuries are sure to crop up throughout the season as they always do. Taking all that together, there will probably be very little consistency in the rotation this year. But there is undoubtedly heaps of talent here and the club seems likely to be in good shape, regardless of who is actually taking the ball. For now, Stone has an opportunity and will look to make the most of it. If other pitchers return to health and he gets squeezed out at some point, he could move to a long relief role in the bullpen or be sent down to the minors, since he still has a couple of option years remaining.


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