Part of what was primed to be a deep Los Angeles Dodgers pitching staff this season, Ross Stripling arguably provided the most versatility of the group. His experience starting and pitching out of the bullpen had been of tremendous value and figured to be again in 2020.
Stripling was part of the competition in Spring Training to be named the fifth starter in the Opening Day rotation, which quickly went to Alex Wood. Stripling later voiced his frustration over what he felt was a rushed process, but another opportunity came his way.
With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic upending the season, David Price opted out in the best interest of his family. Stripling that time earned a spot in the rotation to replace the veteran left-hander.
Stripling enjoyed a strong 2020 debut but his ensuing outings were a mixed bag of results. The right-hander ultimately was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays at the deadline, and he went on to both start and pitch in relief.
His departure was met by kind words and admiration from former Dodgers teammates, including Clayton Kershaw, who was optimistic Stripling would settle in nicely as a member of the Blue Jays rotation.
The Dodgers trading Stripling was largely a byproduct of Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May assuming larger roles. “From our standpoint, this was extremely difficult,” president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said at the time.
“Moving Ross, it was a conversation that I was not looking forward to, how uncomfortable and how uneasy, just because of the respect level. Kind of walked through that exact reasoning of Tony going into the rotation and us being sensitive to what happened in Spring Training, not to mention in years past.
“He’s absolutely a Major League starting pitcher, and a lot of it has just been a function of timing. From our standpoint as we look out to next year, we see a strong group that would’ve made it really difficult to give him any kind of assurances about next year. That was more the guiding light for us.”
Stripling finished 3-1 with a 5.61 ERA in seven starts for the Dodgers, and went 0-2 with one save and a 6.32 ERA in five games (two starts) for the Blue Jays.
Named the fifth starter of the Dodgers’ rotation, Stripling allowed just one run and set a season high with seven strikeouts over seven innings against the San Francisco Giants on July 24.
Stripling reached seven strikeouts two starts later, though in an outing that saw him allow four runs in 5.2 innings.
Stripling is eligible for salary arbitration a second time and presumably will be tendered and go on to sign a contract with the Blue Jays. More times than not those are one-year pacts, but Toronto theoretically could opt for a multi-year deal that buys out Stripling’s final arbitration year (2022).
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