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Gavin Stone strikes out 7 in Triple-A. Where will he start next?

Dodgers have a vacant spot in the rotation coming up soon

Feb 18, 2023: Dodgers pitchers Gavin Stone (71) warms up during a spring training workout at Camelback Ranch.
“So, what’s the mound like at PNC Park in Pittsburgh?”
Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

Three of the four Dodgers affiliates started their games well after the major league team completed their win at Wrigley Field on Saturday, having the stage to themselves, in a way. But pardon us if we were still thinking of the major league team while watching Triple-A.

Player of the day

Gavin Stone had his best start of the season on Saturday night. In the offensive haven in Albuquerque, where Oklahoma City and the Isotopes combined for 72 runs in the first four games of the series, Stone allowed only two singles and two walks, while striking out seven in 4⅔ innings.

Stone induced 19 swinging strikes in his 80 pitches, allowing only one runner to reach third base.

The changeup is Stone’s bread and butter, and he got 14 swinging strikes on that pitch alone on Saturday, including getting Randal Grichuk — on a minor league rehab assignment — to swing through five of them in his two at-bats against Stone. Last season, another changeup artist, Ryan Pepiot, made his major league debut in a day game at PNC Park.

The stage is set for that to happen again, if the Dodgers so choose, with a three-game series against the Pirates in Pittsburgh from Tuesday to Thursday. Noah Syndergaard is in line to start the opener on Tuesday, on five days rest. Next up is the spot vacated by Michael Grove’s right groin strain.

As we discussed last week, the Dodgers could turn to Tony Gonsolin, only one start into a rehab assignment after not pitching in a game for five weeks. Gonsolin also struck out seven in his last start for Oklahoma City, but his fastball was down two and a half ticks from last year’s average, and he only threw 57 pitches in three-plus innings in his first minor league rehab start. Gonsolin is still very much in build-up mode after having to reset during spring training. If Gonsolin starts Wednesday, he’d be on five days of rest.

Los Angeles could also use the off day to start Julio Urías on four days rest on Wednesday, an ideal time to do so since Urías was pulled after only 10 outs and 86 pitches in Friday’s blowout loss.

That leaves Thursday for either Dustin May on four days rest, Stone on four days rest, or possibly even a bullpen game. Andre Jackson seems ideal for the latter, but that’s if he’s not optioned back to Oklahoma City once Evan Phillips returns from the paternity list. Whatever day the Dodgers decide to slot in another starter — Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday — someone new needs to start in the coming week.

Going with Stone is by no means a slam dunk. He’s been up and down through five starts in Triple-A, with two good starts out of five and a 5.49 ERA. His strikeout rate is just 22 percent, and his walk rate is up to 11.6 percent. But with nine pitchers on the injured list, the Dodgers’ only options here are flawed.

Stone is the best option to start Thursday against the Pirates, even if he’s only up for a start or two. It gets his feet wet in the majors, and he’d be temporarily taking the rotation spot that allowed 15 runs in 16 innings in four starts. Starting Stone also buys time for Gonsolin to build back up rather than rushing a reduced version of him back into the rotation.

After all, Thursday isn’t a playoff game.

Triple-A Oklahoma City

In a rare low-scoring game in Albuquerque, Oklahoma City captured a one-run win over the Isotopes (Rockies).

Devin Mann had two of OKC’s seven hits, and drove in a run. Both hits were doubles, giving Mann seven two-baggers in his last six games.

Nick Robertson had a blow-up outing on Wednesday, allowing four runs while only recording one out in the ninth. But he pitched a scoreless eighth inning on Saturday. On the season the right-hander has 16 strikeouts (a 39-percent strikeout rate) with no walks in 10⅔ innings.

Double-A Tulsa

The Drillers hit three solo home runs for all of their offense, but lost by one to the Wichita Wind Surge (Twins), doing so while wearing jean-jacket jerseys, and with Adrián González, now a special assistant with the Dodgers, watching:

Jonny DeLuca hit a home run to lead off the game for the third night in a row. Jorbit Vivas homered and doubled, extending his hitting streak to 14 games. Jose Ramos homered and singled.

Emmet Sheehan struck out eight batters in his four innings, allowing only a run. The right-hander has an absurd 29 strikeouts against four walks in 15⅔ innings this season, and a 46.8-percent strikeout rate.

Tanner Dodson kept the game tied with a scoreless eighth, but allowed a home run in the ninth to provide the game-winner for Wichita.

High-A Great Lakes

The Loons threatened often but only scored twice in a loss to the South Bend Cubs. Great Lakes had only five hits, but also walked five times and stole a season-high six bases. They just didn’t capitalize on the opportunities, going hitless in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Two of the steals were by second baseman Taylor Young, drafted in the eighth round last year out of Louisiana Tech. He has seven steals in seven tries in just 14 games this season. As a senior last year in college, Young stole 28 bases in 30 tries in his 64 games.

Great Lakes’ first run came on a sacrifice fly by Griffin Lockwood-Powell in the fourth inning. The second came on a Dalton Rushing home run in the ninth. Rushing batted leadoff again, this time as the designated hitter.

Loons starter Yon Castro held South Bend scoreless until the fifth, when they knocked him out of the game with three runs. Four relievers followed with 4⅓ scoreless, hitless innings. Right-hander Antonio Knowles recorded four outs and struck out two. On the season, Knowles has a 1.35 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 6⅔ innings, with a 39.3-percent strikeout rate.

Low-A Rancho Cucamonga

The Quakes rode a six-run inning to a home win over the Fresno Grizzlies (Rockies).

Rancho Cucamonga sent 11 batters to the plate in the third inning. Jeral Perez opened the frame with a double, then singled home two runs to finish off the scoring for that inning. In all, the Quakes had five singles, a double, and two walks in the six-run inning.

Livan Reinoso struck out four in two scoreless innings in relief. The 24-year-old right-hander has yet to allow a run in four games this season, with 11 strikeouts in 6⅓ innings.


Triple-A: Left-hander Victor González got called up to the majors.

Low-A: Luis Valdez was activated off the injured list to start on the mound for Rancho Cucamonga, and struck out three in two scoreless innings. Infielder Cameron Decker joined the Quakes for his full-season level debut; the 19-year-old was drafted out of high school in the 18th round last year. Pitcher Peter Heubeck, who started Friday, was placed on the temporary inactive list. Outfielder Juan Alonso was placed on the 7-day injured list, retroactive to Friday.

Saturday scores

Sunday schedule

  • 10:05 a.m. PT: Great Lakes (Adolfo Ramirez) vs. South Bend (Kohl Franklin)
  • 11:05 a.m.: Tulsa (Landon Knack) vs. Wichita (Carlos Luna)
  • 12:35 p.m.: Oklahoma City (Matt Andriese) at Albuquerque (Karl Kauffmann)
  • 2 p.m.: Rancho Cucamonga (Jared Karros) vs. Fresno (Gabriel Barbosa)

Sunday is the first professional start for Karros, son of Eric who was drafted in the 16th round last year out of UCLA. Karros the younger has 12 strikeouts in 6⅔ innings in his first two games this season for Rancho Cucamonga, both in bulk relief, with a 4.05 ERA.