Ross Stripling made strides and improvements over his rookie season, all while transitioning into a different role on the Dodgers pitching staff in his second season.
What went right
After getting used mostly as a starter in 2016, Stripling found a role in the bullpen for the bulk of 2017, pitching 47 of his 49 games in relief. Stripling led the Dodgers in relief innings (69⅓) and was second in the bullpen with 69 strikeouts.
“I came in competing with 8-10 starters, trying to make a team in spring training,” Stripling said. “You have to do whatever it takes to make the squad, and for me that was in the bullpen.”
Stripling struck out the same number of batters (74) as he did in 2017, but needed only 304 batters to do so this year after facing 419 batters in 2016. He also saw his walk rate decrease from 7.2% to 6.3%.
After allowing nine stolen bases in nine attempts as a rookie, Stripling was better against the running game in 2017, with opposing runners three for four in steal attempts.
Stripling was used as a pinch runner twice, and in both games scored the game-winning run, including a walk-off win over the Pirates on May 9.
He made five scoreless appearances in the postseason, with two strikeouts and a walk in three scoreless frames, and stranded all four inherited runners in October. More on that in a moment.
What went wrong
Stripling had a couple clusters of allowing runs in multiple games. In June he allowed eight runs on 13 hits in 5⅔ innings over three games, including two home runs, with a brief option to the minors in between.
He also allowed runs in four straight appearances from Sept. 12-20, allowing eight runs on seven hits in three innings, with three home runs.
Stripling’s home run rate increased to 3.3% of batters faced in 2017, up from 2.4% as a rookie.
Stats: 3.75 ERA, 3.68 FIP in 74⅓ IP, 74 K, 19 BB
Game of the year
While I’m tempted to pick his 12th-inning save in Pittsburgh on Aug. 21 or his five strikeouts in three scoreless innings in a spot start five days later at home, I’m going with Game 3 of the World Series. Stripling pitched 1⅓ scoreless innings in Houston, keeping the Dodgers within two runs, but this was Stripling’s game of the year for his reaction to giving up what was surely a grand slam to George Springer in the seventh inning, only to see the ball die and fall into the waiting glove of Chris Taylor just in front of the wall in center field. No smile was wider all season.
The newly married Stripling has one year, 112 days of major league service time, and has two option years remaining.