Ross Stripling is battling for the final spot in the Los Angeles Dodgers rotation. Stripling is competing against the young, but talented, Dustin May. The winner joins Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, and Alex Wood as the fifth starter come Opening Day.
Before we dive deeper, an editorial disclaimer. Stripling is a frequent guest and legitimate friend of the show on the weekly Dodgers Nation Podcast – Blue Heaven. However, this writer, although he appreciates and respects everything Stripling has done for the Dodgers, has never met Stripling, nor has any relationship with him. Now, back to the article…
Stripling joined the Dodgers in 2016 with excitement and fanfare as another young arm to be nurtured into an everyday starter. In his famous major league debut on April 8, 2016 against the San Francisco Giants, Stripling pitched 7 1/3 innings of no-hitter before getting yanked. Rookie manager Dave Roberts and veteran pitching coach Rick Honeycutt were weary of overtaxing Stripling’s surgically repaired right elbow. This future rotation arm was too good to torch for an April win.
Fast forward to 2020 and Stripling has appeared in more games a reliever (84) than a starter (52). In his lone season of opportunity, he started in 21 games, posted a 3.02 ERA, and was named to the NL All-Star Team. He’s been a spot starter, matchup reliever, long reliever, and everything in between.
Hell, they even traded him to the Orange County Angels.
Fortunately, old Arte’s impatience with the Boston Red Sox fettering over the Brusdar Graterol, AKA Brother Gatorade, medicals eventually killed the three way transaction that also involved the Minnesota Twins, but I digress.
Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, and Alex Wood all got their shot in the bottom half of the Dodgers rotation. Stripling, at the very least, is as good as that quarter if not better.
To be clear, installing Stripling as the fifth starter for the Opening Day roster isn’t a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court or a 10 year contract on a major network sitcom. Rather, it’s an opportunity to reprove himself as a backend starter on a championship caliber team this season.
Two or three starts and that’s it. If Stripling can’t cut it, there’s backup options ready and waiting in Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin. Stripling understands the brevity of this season. 30 year old pitchers don’t wear rose colored glasses.
Stripling has sacrificed for the team for years and has earned this chance at a regular starting role.
The time is now for Dave Roberts to use what he saved.