The Dodgers turn to Ross Stripling in the series and road trip finale against the Blue Jays on Sunday morning in Toronto, but it's unclear who needs this start more — Stripling or the team.
The Dodgers won on Saturday, and have scored 23 runs in their four-game road trip, the offense showing signs of life after a week-long staycation in Los Angeles. But a loss on Sunday would send the Dodgers home with a losing road trip, a full two weeks without winning a series, and a ninth loss in 12 games.
But Stripling needs a good start for his own job security, too.
Mike Bolsinger, who won the fifth starter job in spring training for five minutes before straining his oblique, pitched his first game of a minor league rehab assignment on Saturday, allowing two runs in four innings in Colorado Springs for Triple-A Oklahoma City. Bolsinger was limited to four innings or 60 pitches on Saturday, meaning if he's healthy he has at most two rehab starts left.
There are also the Dodgers' top two pitching prospects knocking on the door. Manager Dave Roberts said Saturday that Julio Urias is under consideration for a call-up, most likely in the bullpen but he could fill a starting role if needed, at least on a temporary basis. There is also Jose De Leon, who struck out nine in his season debut on Tuesday and, like Urias, could fill either role.
It's not that Stripling has been pitching that badly. He just needs to last deeper into his starts, pulled before the fifth inning twice in his last three starts, averaging 4.56 innings in that span.
Stripling in the first three innings this season has held batters to 10-for-54 (.185) with three doubles, five walks and 15 strikeouts in 15 total innings.
In the fourth and fifth innings combined, batters are 13-for-37 (.351) with five doubles, a home run, five walks and five strikeouts in 8⅓ innings.
At the very least, a deep outing is needed from Stripling on Sunday. When the non-Kershaw Dodgers starters this season last six or more innings, the team is 7-6. In shorter outings, the Dodgers are 2-8.
Adrian Gonzalez takes is turn on Dodgers designated hitter roulette on getaway day, on his 34th birthday. Howie Kendrick gets the start at first base, his first time at the position since 2012 and first start there since 2011. It is his fourth position in the field this season.
Yasiel Puig gets a day off, with Trayce Thompson starting in right field in the series finale.
Chase Utley, batting leadoff and playing second base per usual, is 6-for-10 with three doubles, a home run and three walks against Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada, though they haven't faced one another since 2014.
Time: 10:07 a.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA