Ross Stripling didn’t end the year the way he would’ve liked to, but he played a large part in the Dodgers turnaround from a sluggish start.
What went right
2018 was Stripling’s third year in the big leagues and just like previous years, he spent a good amount of time in the bullpen. That’s where he would begin the season before team injuries thrust him into the starting rotation.
Stripling earned his first career trip to the All-Star Game after a stellar first half. Thrown into the rotation for good in early May, the right-hander went 8-1 with a 2.01 ERA from May 6 to July 12.
During that span, Stripling struck out 89 in 76 innings and allowed just seven walks and 69 hits in 13 starts. The boost to the rotation — along with the offense coming to life — helped the Dodgers out of their early season funk and back on track.
“From where I started, coming off TJ [Tommy John] surgery, making the team in ‘16, and finding my way into the bullpen and starting this season in the bullpen and guys go down and just being someone the team can count on to take the ball every fifth day,” Stripling told media after learning of his place in the Midsummer Classic. “To be an All-Star midway through is special and something I’ll remember forever.”
Stripling was one of only two pitchers (Justin Verlander) in baseball with strikeout to walk ration over six (6.18), a walks per none of below 1.7 (1.62) and a strikeouts per none of at least 10 (10.0) with a minimum of 122 innings pitched.
What went wrong
Starting with three runs in 1 2⁄3 innings to take the loss in the All-Star Game, Stripling went into a slide that he never truly recovered from. The right-hander spent two different stints on the DL and only made it five innings in one of his remaining seven starts.
A bum toe kept him out for nearly two weeks, while lower back inflammation — he thought was caused by flipping a hotel mattress — kept him out nearly a month.
Including his one relief appearance, Stripling was 0-4 with a 6.41 ERA in eight games, allowing 19 runs in 26 2⁄3 innings to finish the season.
Stripling didn’t make an appearance in the postseason or even make one of the rosters.
Stats: 8-6, 3.02 ERA, 122 IP, 136 SO, 22 BB, 128 ERA+, 3.41 FIP, 1.189 WHIP
Game of the year
There are a couple games that stand out during a four-game stretch from May 19 to June 5 that saw Stripling give up just two earned runs in 24 2⁄3 innings.
It’s almost a dead heat between May 25 and May 30. The first was six innings against the Padres, giving up just one unearned run, while striking out 10 and walking none in a 4-1 Dodger win. The last start in May was the only game he lasted seven innings, giving up one run and striking out nine against two walks in an 8-2 win over the Phillies.
Stripling has two years and 115 days of major league service time. He has two option years remaining and will be eligible for arbitration after 2019.