In any other organization, Ross Stripling would be on a poster somewhere. For his career, Stripling has an impressive 3.51 ERA across 52 starts and 84 relief appearances.
Among Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers, he was fifth in WAR this past season (1.8) — again, despite bouncing randomly between the rotation and bullpen.
In 15 starts, Stripling posted a 3.60 ERA, striking out more than a batter per inning and posting a K/BB ratio of over 5/1. As a reliever his ERA dropped to 3.05, allowing just one home run in 17 appearances.
At 30 years old, Stripling isn’t a ‘prospect’ any more, and yet he still feels like someone with untapped potential should he ever find himself in the right situation. He feels like a pitcher who could be a No. 3 or 4 starter on a competitive team — the problem is that in Los Angeles, this isn’t a normal situation.
They value flexibility, they boast one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the league and they’re not afraid to mix things up.
Then again, Stripling’s success is probably owed in large part to the work this organization has done to develop him, and so it remains a chicken/egg situation. All in all, Stripling has been an important part of the Dodgers’ success — plugging holes where necessary and doing so rather successfully — and a guy who will continue to be that as long as he’s still around.
A quick look at Stripling’s appearances made this an easy choice, but it requires going all the way back to April 14 against the Milwaukee Brewers. Stripling got the start and was magnificent — going eight innings and allowing just one run on four hits.
The Dodgers went on to win the game 7-1, improving Stripling’s record on the season to 1-1. The win also moved the Dodgers a game above .500, to 9-8 and within two games of the division-leading San Diego Padres.
The answer here depends on where he’s playing. Like many other Dodgers, Stripling’s name is often part of trade packages — especially if they involve teams still interested in competing. As mentioned above, Stripling should be coveted by a number of teams in need of pitching depth, as he could step in to a back-of-the-rotation role at any time.
If he remains on the Dodgers, he’ll probably see a heavy dose of bullpen usage and the occasional spot start when injuries crop up. With the emergence of Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin, it’s reasonable to expect the number of starts Stripling sees to decrease as time goes on.
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