The Los Angeles Dodgers starting rotation has been hampered by injuries in recent weeks, as the team’s top three starters Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish and Alex Wood are all currently on the 10-day disabled list.
Darvish is just around the corner from returning, though, as he is set to start Sunday’s series finale against the Milwaukee Brewers, meaning his back issue only required the minimum 10 days to recover from.
But with Wood on the DL due to a shoulder issue, the Dodgers faced the prospect of needing a starter for Saturday. Kershaw was one potential candidate to fill the void, although the team decided to remain cautious and move ahead with his rehab start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Saturday instead.
Other conceivable options included top pitching prospect Walker Buehler, but he too was ruled out and will likely be called up as a reliever in September, and OKC pitchers Wilmer Font and Fabio Castillo.
Ultimately, the Dodgers decided to go with a familiar face in Ross Stripling in what will be his first start of the season, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
Ross Stripling will start for the Dodgers on Saturday against Milwaukee.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) August 25, 2017
Stripling has been the Dodgers’ primary middle reliever this season, appearing in 35 games and going 3-4 with a 3.41 ERA, 3.16 FIP and 1.21 WHIP. He has struck out 59 while only walking 14 in 58 innings of work.
The 27-year-old has experience as a starter and it’s a role the Dodgers view him in long term. In addition to not yet starting for the Dodgers this season, each of Stripling’s three games with Oklahoma City have all come out of the bullpen.
Thus, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to provide much length, which means Dodgers manager Dave Roberts may need to navigate his way through a bullpen game.
Stripling won’t have his normal last name on the back of the jersey when he takes the mound, as it’s Players Weekend across MLB. Instead, he will have “Chicken Strip,” a childhood nickname, on his jersey.