Dodgers News: Gavin Stone Feels ’10 Times Better’ Than Rookie Season

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After struggling in his debut season last year, Gavin Stone earned the job for the final spot in the Los Angeles Dodgers rotation to begin the 2024 season.

Stone made his first start against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, and he had an effective outing overall. The right-hander began the game with a perfect inning, tallying three strikeouts, pairing with teammates Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Bobby Miller to give the Dodgers the feat in three consecutive games.

From there, Stone went on to pitch five innings, giving up three runs on seven hits with one walk and six strikeouts. His walk came to start the sixth inning before he was taken out of the game, and that runner came around to score.

“I thought Gavin pitched a heck of a ballgame,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “The line score certainly doesn’t show how well he threw the baseball tonight. And really, really good outing for Gavin, we needed those innings from him today.”

The key for Stone has been his health. Last season he dealt with a blister on his right foot that caused him to lose velocity, change mechanics and begin tipping pitches.

That ultimately led to a 9.00 ERA across eight games (four starts) in 31 innings pitched for the Dodgers in 2023.

But this year, Stone has those issues behind him. “I feel 10 times better than last year, for sure,” he said.

That has also led to an uptick in velocity, most notably his fastball. After sitting 94 mph in 2023, Stone was up to an average of 95.4 mph on Sunday and touched 97 mph.

“Yeah, it’s a big deal,” Roberts said. “They’ve got to honor the fastball. And I think last year he had like a foot or a toe thing that led into the lack of velocity last year.

“But now he’s healthy, he’s strong, and it’s 96-97, then the changeup behind it. It’s really good. Today, against a good lineup left, right, kind of staggered, he kept them at bay. There’s some flares, an infield hit, I know he wants that walk back to (Willson) Contreras, but he threw a heck of a ballgame.”

The most encouraging part of Stone’s outing is he registered 16 swings and misses, including nine on the changeup.

Stone’s changeup has been his most effective pitch, but it regressed last season. Keeping it in form will be key to his success moving forward.

There were a lot of building blocks from his first outing, but all things considered, perhaps the best thing is he came out of it feeling good instead of having any lingering issues from last season.

“I felt like my command was good,” Stone said. “Left a couple of pitches up, but other than that, I felt great.”

Gavin Stone excited to watch Dodgers lineup

The Dodgers were training for much of the night, but rallied from down 4-0 to win the game with five runs. The comeback was led by a home run from Teoscar Hernández and another two-run shot from Max Muncy.

In the sixth inning, the Cardinals had a 93% win probability, and that number was 89% entering the eighth.

“It’s pretty cool,” Stone said of the Dodgers’ ability to rally. “They definitely keep you in the game no matter how many runs you give up, so it’s going be fun to watch.”

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