The Los Angeles Dodgers originally scheduled Clayton Kershaw to start on Monday, but instead pushed him back to Saturday and gave the ball to Gavin Stone in the series opener against the San Diego Padres.
Stone gave up a run in the first and third innings, but the Dodgers handed him a 7-2 lead to work with. By the end of the sixth inning, the game was tied and Stone was charged with all seven runs.
The rookie said he left his changeup and cutter up in the zone too much, which is what Dodgers manager Dave Roberts saw from him also.
“Gavin was really good early,” Roberts said. “I thought efficient, they were swinging the bats aggressive, pitch count was low. And then I think from innings four through six, the ball was just up. With the fastball, the changeup, everything was thigh-high.
“Here, at this level, that’s up. Those guys were aggressive still and made him pay. It happened quick.”
While the Dodgers had a five-run inning early in the game, Stone doesn’t believe sitting in the dugout for an extended period threw him off his early rhythm. “Time usually is never an issue,” he said.
“You’ve got tools to stay loose in the dugout, so that wasn’t an issue.”
The early lead did allow him to pitch to contact more with a focus on just trying to get back into the dugout as quickly as possible, Stone mentioned. That different mindset could have contributed to some of his mistakes as his stuff was still good later in the game.
“I think even after the fifth inning he was right around 50 pitches or something like that, so there was plenty more in the tank,” Roberts said.
“I think at this level, you’ve still got to make quality pitches. I just think the balls were up. If you look back at the first half of the game for him, balls were at the knee or hollow of the knee. And then if you look fourth, fifth and sixth, they were mid-thigh.”
Even after throwing 5.1 innings and giving up seven runs, Stone departed at just 65 total pitches, 44 of which were strikes, due to the Padres’ aggressive approach at the plate. He finished the night with just two strikeouts.
“Good in some cases,” Stone said of the Padres swinging early in counts.
“I probably could’ve done a better job of pounding the strike zone and hopefully seeing some more swing and miss early. They were on it early in the counts, and we had talked about it, but back to just getting the ball down. I feel like that would’ve helped a lot with them swinging early.”
Gavin Stone didn’t start due to Clayton Kershaw injury
Each of Kershaw’s six outings since returning from the injured list have all been on at least one day of extra rest. Of course, in this instance he’s receiving 10 days rest, which is an unusual development for someone as routine-regimented as Kershaw.
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