With Gonsolin out for start of season, these are LA's options
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Coming into the season, the Dodgers have continuously talked about their starting pitching depth. The club believes having quality and quantity in the rotation will give it a boost this season.
We’re going to get a good look at that depth right away now that Tony Gonsolin will start the season on the 15-day injured list with a left ankle sprain. Gonsolin is back on the field doing some activities, but he has not thrown off a mound and will need to build back up. It’s safe to assume Gonsolin will miss at least two turns through the rotation, and there’s a good chance it’s even longer than that.
Given that news, how do the Dodgers fill his slot in the starting rotation? We know, barring injury, Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urías, Noah Syndergaard and Dustin May are locks. The No. 5 spot is now up for grabs, with three names emerging as the most likely replacements.
1. Ryan Pepiot
Of the group, Pepiot has the best chance at making the Opening Day roster. Pepiot got his first taste of the Majors last season and pitched well in limited time, going 3-0 with a 3.47 ERA in nine games (seven starts). Pepiot, however, struggled with his command and walks began to add up during his starts.
After dealing with some of those command issues last season, Pepiot made an effort to clean up his delivery and release points and has looked much better this spring, allowing just two runs and walking three over nine innings of work. Pepiot felt some lower back discomfort in his last Cactus League start, but there’s no real concern, according to manager Dave Roberts, and Pepiot remains scheduled to make his next start. If all continues to go well, he appears to be the favorite to break out of camp as the No. 5 starter.
2. Michael Grove
If Pepiot isn’t the choice for the No. 5 spot, Grove would also be a solid option for the Dodgers.
Like Pepiot, Grove got his first taste of the Majors last season and performed well, especially given the circumstances. Because of a plethora of injuries to the starters last season, Grove had to make the jump from Double-A to the Majors. He finished with a 4.60 ERA in seven games (six starts) and didn’t look overwhelmed by the jump in competition level.
This spring, Grove, who started in the Dodgers’ 6-4 win over the White Sox on Saturday at Camelback Ranch, has also impressed, striking out 14 over 12 1/3 innings of work. Grove, however, could benefit from some more time in the Minors in order to stay on a routine and continue to work on his repertoire. But if he’s called in to replace Gonsolin, the Dodgers feel comfortable doing that.
3. Andre Jackson
Jackson is perhaps the longshot here, but Roberts made sure to mention the right-hander when talking about potential options in the rotation. It was a strange 2022 season for Jackson, who had a forgettable Minor League season, posting a 5.00 ERA in 21 appearances with Triple-A Oklahoma City, but was productive in the Majors, finishing the year with a 1.86 ERA in four big league appearances.
If Jackson is able to be consistent, he’ll make an impact at some point this season.
4. Gavin Stone
Stone won’t be on the Opening Day roster. He’s going to start in Triple-A and won’t be ready until midseason. But the right-hander has made quite the impression this spring.
In limited action, Stone has shown off his impressive changeup, one that some scouts are calling the best in the system -- even better than Pepiot’s, which grades out as an above-average pitch. Stone has punched out six over 3 2/3 innings of work and hasn’t allowed a run. There’s still some time before Dodgers fans enjoy Stone, but there’s a lot to be excited about.