Gavin Stone Likely To Be Dodgers’ 5th Starting Pitcher

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Michael Grove started for the Los Angeles Dodgers in their first exhibition game before the Seoul Series, but Gavin Stone is expected to round out the rotation come Opening Day.

“Obviously we’ve got Gavin built up to four innings, potentially five. If it goes well, we could see him in that fourth or fifth spot,” manager Dave Roberts said.

“I think with Gavin, like a lot of our young pitchers, just kind of sharpening up the command. I use that word a lot because it’s important.

“For Gavin in particular, the low dart — the fastball down at the knees — the changeup off of that, the cutter to the lefty, there’s just a lot less arm-side misses and he’s been able to repeat his delivery. For me, that shows a lot of growth from him.”

Before Stone takes the final spot in the Dodgers’ starting rotation, he’s expected to pitch in relief after Bobby Miller on Monday.

Stone went all of Spring Training seemingly in a battle with Landon Knack, Kyle Hurt, Grove and Ryan Yarbrough to take the final spot in the Dodgers rotation. It’s an opportunity that’s been created due to Walker Buehler having a delayed start to his 2024 season because of an innings limit in his return from a second Tommy John surgery.

The Dodgers found themselves in a similar position last spring when Tony Gonsolin sprained his left ankle. Ryan Pepiot and Grove were the options, and it initially went to the former. But Pepiot suffered an oblique/intercostal injury that ruled him out for Opening Day.

Stone now hopes to avoid a similar fate and be with the Dodgers on Opening Day for the first time in his career. The right-hander pitched well in Cactus League play, going 3-0 with just one run allowed and nine strikeouts in 9.2 innings across four games (three starts).

Stone has shown early indications of bouncing back from his struggles last season, which were attributed in some part to tipping pitches.

A blister on Stone’s right foot also was problematic and led to multiple issues.

“It was very hard to push off, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” Stone said earlier this spring.

With the trouble pushing off the rubber, that led to mechanical trouble, which then resulted in tipping pitches. “People could see when I wasn’t throwing my changeup because my arm would just move,” Stone explained.

He spent the offseason correcting those issues.

“It’s a long time,” Stone said about the process of no longer tipping. “Just because unconsciously you change grips in your hand and the slightest little movement, they can see. So to be consistent with every pitch and have the same look was pretty hard, but something you’ve got to do.”

Gavin Stone added muscle

Along with working to correct his pitch tipping issue, Stone spent the offseason adding muscle to better prepare himself for the rigors and physical demands of a full season.

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