It’s been a long and winding road for the Dodgers’ Ross Stripling. He’s seen his fair share of ups and downs, but he could easily be considered one of the most consistent pitchers on the entire staff for the last four seasons.
The Dodgers have asked a lot out of Stripling since his arrival in 2016. He has started in 52 games throwing 257 innings, and he has come in as a reliever 84 times throwing 130 innings. Ross has become the definition of a swingman in a rotation during his time in Los Angeles. And to his credit, you never hear him complain to anyone about his role, despite the fact we all know he would prefer to start games.
The Dodgers put Ross in a bit of an awkward situation this past February. While the Mookie Betts deal was on hold, Los Angeles agreed to trade him to Anaheim along with Joc Pederson but had to wait on the Betts trade to pull through. So for five days, Stripling and Pederson did not know where they were headed to for Spring Training. That trade was eventually called off by the Angels who grew tired of waiting on Andrew Friedman to pull the trigger.
As it turns out, Ross would not have hated the trade to the Angels. The Dodgers’ pitcher spoke about the trade pretty candidly with Pedro Moura and Andy McCullough on The Scribes of Summer podcast this week.
It was such a win-win really for me when you look back at it. You get a chance to go to an Angels team that has an unbelievable lineup…and then a rotation that needs help, a pitching staff that needs help…I’m a 30-year-old man, I’m not a 24-year-old kid waiting for an opportunity…My window is theoretically closing, and to get a chance to go and make some starts like that is a big deal.
Any Dodgers fan would tell you that they would love for Ross to get the chance to start, knowing full well that he would be a solid number three guy in most rotations. He just so happens to be a part of a very deep Dodgers’ pitching staff that’s holding him back. When he talked about the competition to earn a rotation spot this spring, it sounded like he wasn’t even given the opportunity.
When it kind of fell through, Andrew [Friedman], and Mark [Walter], and Dave Roberts were kind of saying, ‘You are going to get a chance to be a starter’… And then when we announced Julio as the number four before games even started. And Alex Wood was clearly the number five, and they announced that. That’s kind of when I reflected, and kind of was like… I don’t know if I really got a chance to earn that fifth spot this spring…It might have been a pretty cool opportunity to go compete for an Opening Day role.
It did seem as though the Dodgers named their starting rotation very early on in Spring Traning, effectively naming all five before the league even shut down. Dave Roberts had already given Alex Wood the final rotation spot before he could make his third start of spring.
So while a trade to the Angels would have been a great opportunity for Stripling, he also acknowledges that he loves where he’s at with the Dodgers. Ross will act as the next guy up should one of the starting five go down with injuries, as he has for his entire career.