Given some of the injuries the Dodgers have suffered in the rotation, it’s finally time for Stone and Miller to get an extended look at the Major League level.
“It's a great opportunity for these young pitchers,” Roberts said. “They're both talented. It's not what we expected, but that really doesn't matter. So, I think that the only way to look at it is, you've got to embrace this opportunity for these guys. And it's up to all of us to make them feel comfortable and perform at a high level, because it shouldn't be on Bobby -- if it isn't Bobhegby; it's going to be Bobby -- to carry the brunt.”
Stone, the Dodgers' No. 4 prospect, made his second start of his career on Monday against the Braves. For the second time, Stone’s final line didn’t look great, allowing five runs over four-plus innings of work. Struggles are expected out of young pitchers, particularly against two good lineups in the Phillies and Braves.
“I think it’s just more of getting my feet under me and feeling more comfortable,” Stone said following Monday’s game against the Braves.
What impressed his teammates the most was Stone’s ability to fight back when things aren’t going his way. Following a four-run first inning, it looked like Stone’s night was going to be a short one. His fastball velocity was down, his changeup was consistently over the middle of the plate and his slider wasn’t sharp.
That’s when pitching coach Mark Prior told Stone to take a deep breath and trust his stuff. Stone then fired three straight scoreless innings before his night ended with two walks to begin the fifth.
“He found his groove and started making some pitches,” said Dodgers catcher Will Smith. “He started moving his fastball around a little better. Changeup was better, slider was a little better. I think he got punched in the mouth and he responded well.”
With Dustin May out for at least one month -- and most likely more than that -- Stone will get a chance to showcase his capabilities during that time. Of the two young pitchers, Stone is believed to be the most polished.
Miller, the top pitching prospect in the organization, has struggled at times in the Minors and probably wouldn’t be in the Majors if the Dodgers’ rotation wasn’t dealing with a handful of injuries. The 2020 first-round pick was sidelined all spring with a right shoulder injury.
In his limited time with Triple-A Oklahoma City, Miller got lit up in two of his starts. He hasn’t found consistent success in the Minors. But none of that is going to matter when he starts for the Dodgers on Tuesday against the Braves.
Maybe he’s not quite ready. Maybe neither of them are. But you never know until they get a chance. It’s finally Miller and Stone time.