Coming into the season, Ross Stripling was in the same position he’d been in every year during his career. He was likely going to begin the year as a reliever, but he’d wind up in the starting rotation somehow due to injury. It’s been that way ever since his major-league debut in 2016.
When David Price opted not to play this season, it was almost guaranteed that Stripling would finally get his chance to be a full-time starter. On Friday night, he made his first start of the season. It was his first chance to prove to everyone he’s worthy of being in that starting rotation.
Not only did he live up to expectations, he exceeded them.
“It was really good to see,” manager Dave Roberts said following the game. “He pitched all the quadrants. It was all working tonight. He’s such a good executor of pitches. The rhythm is really good. He deserved it.”
Stripling threw seven innings of one-run ball. It was only the fifth time in his career he had thrown at least seven innings in a game. He also struck out seven while issuing zero walks. The Giants were only able to score one run, which was a home run. Aside from that, they only were able to manage three hits off of Stripling.
After a great start to the season, Stripling attributed a lot of his success from last night to his changeup that he’s been working on during the offseason.
“A lot more confident,” Stripling said when asked how he feels about his changeup. “New grip. Kind of had it in spring training. Brought it back at the end of quarantine, then worked on it hard. Throwing it to our guys and getting some feedback on them. They said keep working on it, keep chunking it.
“I was able to throw a handful of really good ones today. I’ve faced some of those hitters many times. I feel like I got some swing and misses on the changeup, maybe a new wrinkle they haven’t seen. Good to get some instant feedback from it. Going to continue to throw it, get comfortable with it and keep rocking it.
“I thought I was competitive at the top of the zone with the fastball. I was consistent at the top of the zone, which is good. Felt good. I was able to work on some stuff between innings to stay ready.”
When asked what he did in-between innings, Stripling said that he went to work on his lower back and hips, not his arm. His got with the strength coaches and they gave him some hip and mobility stuff to work on.
“I’m a 30-year-old man, if I sit down I get too stiff,” Stripling jokingly said. “Gotta keep moving around between innings. Those first few innings it felt like we hit for 15 minutes each time. I was just sitting there getting stiff.”
Stripling said that his changeup is a feel pitch. The harder he throws it, the more success he sees. During the quarantine, he spent time cutting a bunch of them.
“I couldn’t get consistent movement,” Stripling said. “I would throw one that was great then two that were terrible. I’m a strike thrower. If I’m going to have a pitch I don’t know where it’s going 50 percent of the time, it’s not going to fit in my arsenal. I’d rather throw the one that’s average and know where it’s going. Luckily the more I throw this one, the more comfortable I get.”