MLB

Gavin Stone’s major league debut – Dodgers Digest

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(Photo: Tim Campbell)

After being unnecessarily complicated regarding this afternoon’s starting pitcher, the Dodgers finally announced Gavin Stone was formally recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City. With space already available on the 40-man roster after Austin Wynns was designated for assignment on Monday, Alex Vesia was sent to Triple-A to make space on the active roster.

Outscoring Philadelphia 26-5 in the first two games of the series to extend their win streak to five games, the longest of the season, Los Angeles’ 8-2 record in the past 10 games is tied with Baltimore for the best stretch in the league. While Stone makes his major league debut, Aaron Nola will start the 210th game of his career which ranks ninth all-time in Phillies franchise history.

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Image Image
1:10 PM Los Angeles
LF Schwarber (L) RF Betts
SS Turner 1B Freeman (L)
DH Harper (L) C Smith
RF Castellanos 3B Muncy (L)
2B Stott (L) DH Heyward (L)
1B Bohm CF Outman (L)
CF Marsh (L) 2B Vargas
3B Sosa LF Peralta (L)
C Stubbs (L) SS Taylor
P Nola (R) P Stone (R)

With Austin Barns starting last night, Will Smith gets the start for Stone’s debut. Jason Heyward has now played in 17 of the Dodgers’ past 18 games, with 12 starts as his xwOBA of .392 is the highest of his major league career. With his wOBA now equal at .392, Heyward is tied for 31st in the league and his Hard Hit % of 59.5 is fourth.

Chris Taylor is at shortstop as they ease Miguel Rojas back in following his hamstring injury, and the rest of the order is pretty much as expected against a right-handed starter with Trayce Thompson, Michael Busch, Rojas and Barnes on the bench.

For the Phillies, it’s nearly their exact order from last night with J.T. Realmuto getting the day off behind the plate and replaced by Garrett Stubbs.

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Through six starts this season, Nola holds a 4.46 ERA, 4.02 FIP and a 4.59 xFIP across 36 1/3 innings. Striking out 19.3% of batters with a 6.2 BB%, Nola’s near the bottom in K% among qualified pitchers. Tied for 58th out of the 76 pitchers qualified on FanGraphs, Nola sits in the 29th percentile in K%, 20th percentile in Whiff% and 12th percentile in fastball velocity.

After allowing three or more runs in each of his first five starts this season, Nola held the Astros to just three hits and one run on April 28. Striking out six batters, Nola went a season-high 8 innings on 107 pitches. He still generated just 11 misses on 52 swings, led by four against 12 fastballs, but the 21.2% matched his second-highest single game total this season behind 26.0% against the Reds on April 16 that came primarily on his cutter with four misses on six swings.

Nola is actually in just his third season throwing the cutter, with his percentage up to 13.1% this season from 6.5% a year ago. The 91.7 mph fourseamer, slower than Noah Syndergaard‘s sinker or fastball, is Nola’s hardest pitch and is just ahead of his sinker in overall usage at 32.1% to 31.9%.

The right-hander actually leans on his curve 27.7% of the time to right-handed batters with the fastball at 27.4%, sinker at 20.2% and cutter at 18.0%. With a .220/.240/.330/.570 line against righties this season, Nola’s success has been with the curve a .203 xwOBA and it’s 22.2 Whiff%. Meanwhile, left-handed batters have a .370 xwOBA against the curve after seeing the pitch 29.6% of the time. Nola uses the fastball 44.1% of the time against lefties and his changeup 21.0% of the time. All three of those pitches have xwOBAs over .300 with a season line of .279/.367/.535/.902.

That would seem beneficial for the left-handed Max Muncy, who has a 3.3 RV/100 against fastballs that ranks around the league’s 87th percentile for qualifying batters and a xwOBA of .532 that’s 21st. Freddie Freeman‘s RV/100 against fastballs is still just 1.0, but his xwOBA of .546 is 12th. James Outman‘s 8.7 RV/100 and xwOBA of .519 rank fifth and third against changeups and Jason Heyward’s 6.8 RV/100 and .544 xwOBA are 44th and 26th against curveballs.

However, Muncy is just 1-for-15 in his career against Nola with eight strikeouts while Freeman is 15-for-66 with nine strikeouts and a .674 OPS. Additionally, Heyward is 0-for-6 and Outman had yet to face Nola so who knows if anything I just wrote above is going to matter. Mookie Betts is 4-for-13 with a 1.154 OPs, including a pair of home runs, and Miguel Rojas is 10-for-33 with a .706 OPS.

Nola faced the Dodgers twice in 2022, coming less than a week apart on May 15 and May 21. After lasting 7 innings with four hits and two walks allowed in addition to eight strikeouts the first time out, Nola allowed five hits and a walk in 5 1/3 innings with nine strikeouts in the second start. Betts hit a third-inning homer in the first game to account for half the runs the Dodgers scored against Nola in a 5-4 victory, and hit another in the second game. Betts also doubled in two runs with Will Smith hitting a solo homer as the Dodgers scored four off Nola in a 7-4 victory.

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Stone ranked fourth behind Diego Cartaya, Bobby Miller and Miguel Vargas on the Top 33 Prospects for 2023 that Dustin and Josh put together, with the latter covering Stone’s last start for Triple-A OKC here.

A 5th Round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, Stone was the penultimate pick of the shortened draft out of Central Arkansas. Stone will be the 14th player from the 2020 draft to debut in the majors, and the second from the 5th round.

The Dodgers took Miller, Landon Knack, Clayton Beeter, Jake Vogel and Carson Taylor ahead of Stone, who is going to beat them all to the majors after splitting 2021 between Single-A Rancho and High-A Great Lakes before playing at three levels in 2022. In total, Stone needed 18 games with the Quakes, 11 games with the Loons, 14 at Double-A Tulsa and 12 in Oklahoma City before getting to Los Angeles.

Here’s probably much more information than needed, but below is the major league debut for just about every Dodgers’ starting pitcher since 2013. It’s been more than six seasons since any of them lasted more than 6 innings, with the 70 to 77 pitch range being followed pretty consistently over the past few years.

Pitcher Draft Debut Age at Debut Innings Pitches Strikes K BB H R
Michael Grove 2018, Round 2 May 2022 25 3 2/3 70 43 3 3 4 4 (0 earned)
Ryan Pepiot 2019, Round 3 May 2022 24 3 77 40 3 5 1 0
Josiah Gray 2018, Round 2 July 2021 23 4 (3rd to 6th) 77 53 7 1 4 4
Mitch White 2016, Round 2 Aug. 2020 25 1 (8th to GF) 22 10 1 1 1 0
Dustin May 2016, Round 3 Aug. 2019 21 5 2/3 97 64 3 0 9 4 (3 earned)
Tony Gonsolin 2016, Round 9 June 2019 25 4 77 51 3 0 6 6 (4 earned)
Dennis Santana 2013, FA June 2018 22 3 2/3 70 45 4 1 6 5
Caleb Ferguson 2014, Round 38 June 2018 21 1 2/3 57 32 3 3 2 4
Walker Buehler 2015, Round 1 Sept. 2017 23 2 26 18 2 0 1 0
Jose De Leon 2013, Round 24 Sept. 2016 24 6 86 58 9 0 5 4 (3 earned)
Brock Stewart 2014, Round 6 June 2016 24 5 95 63 7 2 8 5
Julio Urias 2012, FA May 2016 19 2 2/3 81 42 3 4 5 3
Ross Stripling 2012, Round 5 April 2016 26 7 1/3 100 58 4 4 0 1
Kenta Maeda 2016, FA April 2016 27 6 84 57 4 0 5 0
Zach Lee 2010, Round 1 July 2015 23 4 2/3 90 56 3 1 11 7
Red Patterson 2010, Round 29 May 2014 26 4 2/3 87 50 1 3 2 1
Matt Magill 2008, Round 31 April 2013 23 6 2/3 103 71 7 2 4 2
Hyun Jin Ryu 2012, FA April 2013 26 6 1/3 80 55 5 0 10 3 (1 earned)

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As mentioned above, Vesia was sent down to Triple-A with Victor Gonzalez and Caleb Ferguson in the bullpen as left-handed options. Through 10 1/3 innings this season, Vesia is at a 7.84 ERA, 3.46 FIP and 4.21 xFIP. His K% is down to 25.4%, and his batting average allowed up to .434 with a .595 BABIP. Vesia’s fastball is at a .334 xwOBA with his slider even worse at .391. and both pitches have an exit velocity up of at least 3 mph.

Step one for Outman’s NL Rookie of the Year campaign is complete.

And Clayton Kershaw earned the monthly award as well.

And after Julio Urias bounced back from his recent struggles with an impressive outing last night, I thought it was worth noting his 1 percentile extension was going back up to where it was when he allowed one run in 6 innings with eight strikeouts against the Giants.

And speaking of Kershaw and Urias, here’s another reason Stone is starting today.

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First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. PT on SportsNet LA and is the free game of the day on MLB.tv.





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