Ross Stripling’s 2020 season with the Dodgers was a matter of respect.
He started off spring training — back in February, before the pandemic shut down sports for a while — on the outside of the starting rotation, and voiced displeasure at not getting the opportunity to win a job he felt he earned.
But once David Price opted out of the truncated season to be with his family, Stripling got his chance, and ran with it. He won his first three starts, including two starts with seven strikeouts. Stripling was living right, with an average support of 7.43 runs per game in 2020, the best run support for any Dodgers pitcher in at least a decade.
After allowing single home runs in those first three starts, Stripling went on a four-start streak of allowing multiple homers. That saw his ERA balloon from 4.00 to 5.61, and his FIP skyrocketed from 4.41 to 7.29. Stripling made seven starts with the Dodgers this season, but his 12 home runs allowed were three more than any other pitcher on the staff.
The emergence of Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin made Stripling’s hold on a rotation spot very tenuous, so much so that he was traded to the Blue Jays at the August 31 trade deadline.
“From our standpoint, this was extremely difficult moving Ross. It was a conversation that I was not looking forward to just because of the respect level,” president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the day of the trade. “He’s absolutely a major-league starting pitcher and a lot of it has been a function of timing.”
After the season, Stripling on his podcast described the emotional roller coaster of getting traded from the only professional organization he’s known since 2012, and said he appreciated Friedman being up front with him about the deal.
Stripling held a variety of pitching roles in his five major league seasons with the Dodgers, starting 59 games and relieving 84 more. Prior to his performance dip in 2020, Stripling was above average every year. His 110 ERA+ is tied for 48th in franchise history among pitchers with at least 400 innings.
He was beloved by his teammates, including Chris Taylor calling Stripling “one of everybody’s favorite teammates.”
The public plaudits continued even after the Dodgers won the World Series. During his postgame speech on the field, manager Dave Roberts specifically thanked Stripling, an incredible gesture in the moment.
Stats: 5.61 ERA, 7.29 FIP, 27 K, 33⅔ IP with Dodgers
Salary: $2.1 million
Game of the year
Stripling’s first start of the year was his best, allowing only one run — a solo home run by Jaylin Davis — in seven strong innings against the Giants on July 24 at Dodger Stadium. Stripling struck out seven, a season high.
With four years, 115 days of service time, Stripling is eligible for salary arbitration with Toronto this winter.
On the Dodgers’ side, they got two players from the Blue Jays in return for Stripling. One is right-handed pitcher Kendall Williams, a second-round draft pick in 2019 who just turned 20 in August. The other player to be named later has not yet been named.