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Pitching Still a Work In Progress – Although It Is Because They Are Very Good

Since the end of the 2023 season, I have maintained that Emmet Sheehan deserved first shot at #5 starting pitcher.  From everything I read, the Dodgers were leaning that way as well.  With Sheehan coming out with a sore shoulder for ST, it’s being reported that he will start the season on the IL.  This opened the 5th SP spot to others.

Just like last year, next man up.  Last year it was Gavin Stone who did not answer that bell, but Sheehan had.  This year, Stone is a completely different pitcher.  Was it that he learned not to tip his pitches?  Did he resurrect that vaunted change to be a true swing and miss pitch?  Has he learned to harness both his control and command?  Probably a resounding yes to all of the above.

Last season, Stone had 31.0 IP.  He had a 1.90 WHIP, .338 BAA, 13 BB with 22 K, and 8 HR.

Thus far in ST, Stone has started 3 games and thrown 9.2 IP, both team highs.  He has a 0.62 WHIP, .161 BAA, 1 BB with 9K, and 0 HR.  That is a different pitcher.  What makes it more impressive is that he is doing this against primarily MLB hitters.

So while last season’s playoff find, Brandon Pfaadt, was getting pounded by the Dodgers, Gavin Stone was shutting down the Dbacks on 2 hits, 0 BB, and 5 K over 4.0 scoreless innings.  Granted the Dbacks did not play, Corbin Carroll, Ketel Marte, Christian Walker, nor Gabriel Moreno, but he cannot make out the other team’s lineup.  He can only pitch against the players Torey Lovullo sends up.

What was most impressive is how far the change has been cleaned up since last season.  Stone has always been labeled with a 70 change.  He relied too much on his fastball last year because no one was swinging at the change.  He is now much better with the command of both his fastball and change.

Even when Walker Buehler returns, the rotation is going to have injuries (or general soreness), and the need to slide into a 6 man rotation at times, so Stone should have plenty of opportunities to make that role his own.

Michael Grove had a very good outing against Texas and put himself back into the discussion.  But IMO, Stone’s Sunday performance and his overall performance in ST puts him ahead of Grove.  Kyle Hurt and Landon Knack did not get a lot of exposure in a shortened ST environment.  Ryan Yarbrough is also in the discussion, but he will probably be a multi-inning LHP out of the bullpen.

Who the SP are going into Seoul is not nearly as important as what that rotation will look like when the Dodgers open at home against St. Louis, March 28.  I would have to assume that Bobby Miller, Gavin Stone, and James Paxton will serve as piggyback options for Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Tyler Glasnow on March 20 and March 21.

The bullpen is a different situation.  Brusdar Graterol has been told he will not be going to Seoul because of hip and resultant shoulder soreness.

Blake Treinen, who has looked good this Spring, dodged a bullet after getting drilled by a batted ball on Saturday.  He was diagnosed with a right lung contusion, but no fractures.  He cannot throw for a day or two, but he should be okay for Seoul.

The biggest disappointment for me has been JP Feyereisen.  I still believe in his upside, but he is probably going to need to start the season in OKC to work out the kinks.  He still has two options.

Nabil Crismatt was also a disappointment for me.  I hope he stays with the Dodgers and works everything out at OKC and puts his name on the list for 2024.

Daniel Hudson looks to get the Brusdar Graterol spot in the bullpen for Seoul.  A spot on the 40 man will have to be cleared, but that should be cleared with Nick Frasso being placed on the 60 day IL.

Evan Phillips, Ryan Brasier, Joe Kelly, and Ryan Yarbrough are locks for the bullpen. If challenged, I would also include Alex Vesia, but he has an option, and if it is true that performance is paramount, as Doc has succinctly stated, then a spot needs to be cleared for TJ McFarland.  I am sure that a 40 man spot can be opened with a trade of one or more on the 40 man roster, or a DFA.

  • Phillips
  • Brasier
  • Kelly
  • Treinen
  • Hudson
  • Vesia
  • Yarbrough
  • 1 open spot

For now, I would project Michael Grove to be that guy.   Other options are Ricky Vanasco, Kyle Hurt, and Matt Gage.  If you need a one inning reliever who is already on the 40 man, Ricky Vanasco makes a lot of sense for me.

However, IMO, TJ McFarland has made a huge statement.  He has arguably been the most effective reliever this Spring.  He has appeared in 6 games and thrown 6.0 scoreless IP.  He has allowed 2 hits, no walks and 6 strikeouts.  Is that good enough to earn a spot on the roster?

Roberts has already gone on record with the following:

“The No. 1 goal for us to win baseball games,” he said. “So whatever we have to do…whatever we do is going to be in the best interest of winning.”

“Performance is paramount at this level…I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

I would argue that TJ McFarland on the 26 man, Gus Varland DFA (trade), and Vesia in OKC gives the Dodgers the best chance of winning this year.

But I have no chance of discussing this with AF/BG, so I will obviously defer to them.

Two pitchers that have pitched themselves into the discussion for 2024 consideration are RHRP Kevin Gowdy and LHRP John Rooney.  Rooney has been perfect in his 4.0 IP.  A couple of others lower in the organization that have opened eyes…RHRP Juan Morillo, RHRP Sauryn Lao.

I am also very high on LHRP Alec Gamboa.  He pitched very well in his 3 games (3.0 scoreless IP).  1 single (only baserunner) and 3 K, and will be on the short list for 2024.

Pitching is still a work in progress, but the options are deep.

The Dodgers trim 10 more players from their roster on Sunday. Sent to minor-league camp were left-hander Matt Gage, right-handers Kevin Gowdy and Elieser Hernandez, outfielders Jose Ramos, Drew Avans and Ryan Ward, infielders Andre Lipcius, Trey Sweeney and Austin Gauthier and catcher Dalton Rushing.

It looks like TJ McFarland, Nabil Crismatt, Dinelson Lamet, Chris Okey, Chris Owings, and Kevin Padlo are still with the MLB team with MiLB contracts.

We will learn who the 31 headed to Seoul will be on Wednesday.




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Watford Dodger

Totally agree with you on TJ McFarland over Vesia, he’s definitely earned it, and Vesia still doesn’t look quite right to me. He looks dominant at times but seems to lose it very quickly.

i was very relieved to hear that Treinen is going to be ok. He is a key player at the back end of the rotation.

I’ve been keen on Gavin Stone for the 5th Starter role for a while. In fact t thought I remembered posting something along those lines…

 1 month ago

Very interesting summary Jeff. Due to the paucity of Position Player depth, would a reunion with Kike on a one year deal seem prudent given his ability to play every position?
I know the Angels are sweet on him, but I also
read that he’d ideally love to stay with the Dodgers, (who wouldn’t?), and as such may well be happy to sign for a season? He would also add something to the team chemistry.
On a slightly different note, the player I think will have a big year is Brandon Stone. I thought he showed real potential in the first half of 23, and a year older and with more experience, I expect to see him pushing very hard for the 6th spot in the mooted extended Rotation.

In hindsight I’m quite pleased with this post lol.

The Dodgers look stacked in every department.
My concern at this point is whether our defense
can support the stellar pitching we are going to see?

Last edited 4 months ago by Watford Dodger

Stone was impressive yesterday as was the offense. They teed off on Pfaadt and didn’t let up. Also encouraging was the infield play of Gavin Lux and Mookie Betts. Much better than their first time out there in their new positions.


They still need work. Betts with another error resulting in an unearned run and there was that awkward DP attempt that ended with a bad throw to first. I’m prepared for a middle of the pack defense.

Pitching. Sure hope everyone stays healthy. If they do we should be fine. Something tells me they won’t, but there should be enough depth to keep putting decent arms out there. I say again, this team is built to outscore the opposition.

Make mine Blue

Pitching rarely, if at all, stays healthy thru an entire season, just ain’t gonna happen. Pitching depth is always the key, always has been always will be.


“always has been”

Not really.

Make mine Blue

You must have been watching a different sport than me all these years. I’ve never seen a MLB team make it thru a season without injury to it’s pitching core.


I was watching the same game, just in a different era. Example, in 1966 the Dodgers had 4 starters and 5 relievers. There were a few other guys that together pitched a total of 9 innings. Those 4 starters pitched 1,063 innings. Think about that for a moment. Not counting any extra innings there are only 1458 innings in a season.

It is clearly a different era.

Last edited 4 months ago by Badger

Players were afraid of losing their roster spot if they told the team they were hurt. One reason why Koufax got the type of treatments for his bad wing that he did. Instead of seeing a doctor when it first began to bother him. In 62 when he hurt his hand hitting, he pitched with it like that from April to July, then when his finger split open while throwing a pitch, he finally had to have it taken care of. He came back in September but was not the same pitcher. The Giants caught the Dodgers and won the three-game playoff, had he said something earlier, the team might have been able to trade for another starter.


Scouting report on TJ McFarland?


Thank you. Better than Gage I suppose.


Found this photo of Lasorda and several players taken at Dodger Stadium in the late 70’s. Check out those threads!!!


Blake Snell and Trevor Bauer. Care to comment?


Snell to the Yankees. I am not sure Owners and GM’s are ready to take a chance on Bauer just yet. I think a lot of owners and GM’s would like to have him but the backlash from their corporate sponsors will not allow it.


Does anyone know if their were any scouts from MLB teams at the Bauer show?


Thanks Jeff. That certainly sends a strong message.


The “Old Boy” network still in charge. Baseball very slow to change its moral opinions.


Story on yahoo sports that he was interested in joining the Dodgers.


They look ready to hit the Disco.


That is what I thought.


A loud era.


Very. I owned one pair of bell bottom pants in my entire life. I got them in 1968. I wore them maybe three times. Then I went back to jeans.


Exactly what I was thinking.

Fred Vogel

Does Justin Wilson have any options remaining?

Duke Not Snider

Didn’t realize TJ McFarland was 35. Yes, maybe Prior and his staff have tweaked his approach a bit already…
Stone looks really good. I’ve always liked the scouting reports on him, and the extra Chipotle may have helped too. He has a great opportunity in the next few weeks while Sheehan and Buhler mend….
Funny how we entered spring training thinking all the positions were set.
But then, without an actual competition, Mookie beat out Lux at SS.
Strange way to start a season.


Lux is a hot mess. He needs to go to OKC to work out his issues. The team would be better with Mookie at 2nd and Rojas at SS.


Don’t know why the coaches allow him to throw like that. Stand up and throw it overhand.


This is like Stone tipping pitches Badger, it’s not quite as easy as saying ‘Don’t do that’

Watford Dodger

Yep thought exactly the same thing. He’s not even throwing with any urgency – it all looks so casual. It’s as if he had an injury to his arm or shoulder not his leg.

i don’t care what anyone says, he is simply a liability at the moment, and it’s not like they can hide him out in Left Field. He’s playing the most important defensive position on the team!

Make mine Blue

Right with ya there, Watford


Cool your jets guys. It is spring training, and the guy has played 4 games at second after missing more than a year. He hasn’t been on the field since March of 22. Be patient, the games don’t even count. He will be fine. It is more about being rusty than anything else.


I like your tude, dude.


We’ve bern saying that,”it’s only spring training anf the games don’t mean much”, but they do. Apparently they gave the FO enough info to make a pretty major switch in their middle infield because of what they’ve seen in these ”
meaningless” games.


A defense featuring Muncy at 3B, Betts at SS, and Lux at 2B is not a championship defense. With their offense, they can afford a defense-first option at SS. Having Rojas at SS makes the rest of the infield defense, if not good, at least decent.

Make mine Blue

I think Rojas is a pretty slick fielder, I’ve liked what I have seen.


Success for Stone is the same that turned around things for Gonsolin. Keep his fastball on the edges and throw his change up for strikes. For Gonsolin it was his splitter.


Alternate reality: we sign Chapman and move Muncy to 2b.


Current reality: we wait for Lux to get his shit together and keep the rest of the team where they are?


Current reality: we have no say in the matter.


When was the last time we had a championship defense?




Not comparable to a full season, IMO.


Might Kike’ platoon with Muncy?


Muncy is not platooning with anyone. He has hit .228 in career against RHP, .227 against lefties. Kike has played 45 games in his career at third, I do not think he is an option. Taylor only 67. But Taylor would be my choice.

Last edited 4 months ago by Oldbear48

It is spring training. Lux has played 10 games, 3 of those as a DH. Then after 3 games, he was asked to switch back to 2nd base. I think his problems are less mental and more a case of being rusty from not playing since March of 22. Let this stuff work itself out. I have seen some really bad posts saying he should go back to AAA to work this out. It hasn’t affected his bat. He will be fine. Have a little frippen patience.




Rust? Yeah, I’m sure there is some of that. I’m talking about his mechanics. Just because you’re at second and first base is closer doesn’t mean you can casually throw sidearm. Field the ball, stand up, separate, throw. It’s Little League instruction man. Someone on that staff has to get through to him and soon.

Last edited 4 months ago by Badger

Rust as in his muscle memory. It takes a while to get back in the groove. But he hasn’t played enough games at second to judge just yet. I am sure the coaches, and his teammates are talking to him all the time. But the missed pop fly? No excuse for a bad play like that.


I’m here at Camel back, with my wife and another couple. We have tickets for Tuesday, and Wednesday, headed over tomorrow about 10:30am hoping to see some of the workouts before the game.


Anybody know who’s starting the next couple of days




Glasnow tommorrow the next day hasn’t been determined. Have fun there.


Thanks Eric, I’m looking forward to seeing him in person. Last year was my first time here, we were with other couples, we went to one Angel game, the semi, and final of the world baseball classic, which was great, but it only left us with enough time to see one Dodger game. I’m looking forward to spending more time there this trip.


Fantastic, thanks Jeff.


You get to see the Dodgers 2 top starting pitchers in person. Cool 👍 

Last edited 4 months ago by Eric

Vegas has the Dodgers at 103.5 wins.

I’ll take the over.

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