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Ross Stripling, Matt Cain face off after long comeback trails

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers turn to Ross Stripling on Friday night against the Giants, their second starting pitching major league debut in three games.

Stripling, 26, joins Kenta Maeda, the 28-year-old who made his spectacular debut on Wednesday in San Diego, in a select group of Dodgers starting pitchers making their major-league pitching debuts at age 26 or older. That group of 18 such pitchers in the last 100 years was profiled on Wednesday by Jon Weisman at Dodger Insider.

Thrust into the Dodgers-Giants rivalry, Stripling joins an even rarer fraternity of Dodgers starting pitchers to make their major league debut on the road against the Giants — with Ed Appleton (1915), Johnny Podres (1953) and Hideo Nomo (1995) the only other members since 1913.

Dodgers starting pitchers making their major league debut in the last 20 years are 6-3 with a 2.92 ERA in 16 starts, with 78 strikeouts and 29 walks in 92⅓ innings, averaging 5.77 innings per start. Nine of the 16 starts were quality starts, and the Dodgers were 9-7 in those games.

While Stripling is fully back from Tommy John surgery, Giants starter Matt Cain is back after dealing with arm problems of his own the last two years. Cain required surgery in 2014 to remove bone chips from his right elbow, and missed the first half of 2015 with a strained right forearm, then saw a brief stint on the disabled list late last season with elbow nerve irritation.

After making 30-plus starts for eight straight years, averaging 32 starts and 209 innings from 2005-2013 with a 3.38 ERA and 118 ERA+, Cain has been limited in the past two years by the aforementioned injuries. In 2014-2015 Cain totaled just 28 games, including 26 starts, and 151 innings, putting up a 4.83 ERA, a 74 ERA+.

Cain even had surgery this February to remove a cyst in his upper right arm, but was able to recover enough to have a relatively normal spring, building up enough arm strength to join San Francisco's opening day rotation.

"I mean, a month ago, to have surgery …" Cain said on March 28, per Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. "It wasn’t something big, but it was the arm. So to be able to bounce back is great. They’ve done a good job of maintaining it to get the arm strength to where it needs to be."

Cain hasn't faced the Dodgers since 2014, but the Giants have dropped his last five starts against Los Angeles, dating back to 2013, with Cain going 0-3 with a 5.27 ERA, allowing five home runs, eight doubles and a triple in that span.

Game info

Time: 7:15 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA

Radio: KLAC