Dodgers News: Gavin Stone Minimized Changeup Usage To ‘Help All My Pitches’

Gavin Stone turned in the best start of his career as the Los Angeles Dodgers cruised by the Toronto Blue Jays with a 12-2 victory.

Stone pitched seven innings, giving up just one run on two hits with two strikeouts and two walks. It was the first time in his career that Stone pitched seven innings in a game. It passed his previous career high of 6.2 innings, which was set against the San Diego Padres earlier this month.

While there would ideally be more swing-and-miss stuff from Stone as he tallied just four whiffs in the game, he was able to prevent the Blue Jays from making hard contact.

Part of that was due to a change he made with his pitch sequencing and usage by utilizing his changeup less often, he said on SportsNet LA:

“Yeah, good. If I can minimize my use on the changeup and then flash it in good spots, that just helps all-around. It helps all my pitches. So yeah, it’s a good feeling knowing that I can still get outs without that.”

The changeup is Stone’s best pitch, and he’s used it often this year, accounting for nearly 30% of his total pitches so far. It also accounted for two of his four whiffs on Friday.

But Stone cut that percentage in half to 15% against the Blue Jays, and relied on his other offerings more.

There was no pitch that saw a drastic increase in usage as his sinker, four-seam, cutter, slider and curveball all had higher rates than his average during the season.

It’s not common practice for a pitcher to utilize their best pitch less often, but it ended up making his sinker far more effective as it posted an elite 39% called strikes plus whiffs rate.

If Stone can keep improving on that, perhaps the strikeouts will start to come, and he can take a huge jump forward as a pitcher.

Gavin Stone stats

Overall this season, Stone has posted a 4.68 ERA across 25 innings with a 1.44 WHIP, but he’s held opponents to three runs or fewer in five of his six outings.

Stone needs to increase his strikeout rate and lower his walk rate, but he has been a solid back-end of the rotation arm for the Dodgers.

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