After arguably the wildest offseason of his career, Ross Stripling is back with the Dodgers and will likely settle into his usual role, which is whatever the team needs.
When Dave Roberts on Monday announced the team’s starting rotation to open the season, Stripling’s name wasn’t mentioned, but that was expected. Stripling continues to build up as a starter this spring, and will almost certainly start games for the Dodgers at some point this season, as well as relieve.
The reported February trade with the Angels that would have sent Stripling and Joc Pederson to Anaheim fell through, and would have given Stripling a chance to start, and certainly pitch more innings than he will with the Dodgers.
“But there are no hard feelings. I like this role. It’s been good for me, and I know they really value it,” Stripling told Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times. “I’ve found a good little niche. But I still want to get into that [starter’s] routine and have that leash and know they’re going to let me go. It will happen at some point.”
Stripling started 15 games last year, and has started 52 games in his four major league seasons. He’s also relieved 84 games. Whatever the role, Stripling has produced quality innings, with a career 3.51 ERA (a 115 ERA+) and 3.60 FIP. He’s one of only six pitchers in Dodgers history to post at least a 100 ERA+ in 70 or more innings in each of their first four seasons, joining Nap Rucker, Don Drysdale, Stan Williams, Ron Perranoski, and Hiroki Kuroda.
Stripling also told DiGiovanna he altered the grip on his changeup, trying to add to a pitch mix that already includes a fastball, curve, and slider.
During their run of seven consecutive division titles, the Dodgers have averaged over 12 starting pitchers per season, never fewer than 10 starters in any one season. They averaged six players making at least 10 starts. Yes, the starting pitchers for the first five games of 2020 are known. But there will be others throughout the season, with Stripling almost certainly in the mix.
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