With Kenley Jansen possibly being sidelined for a month or so, the Los Angeles Dodgers were forced to overhaul their bullpen. Among the most notable changes included a pair of starting pitchers in Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling transitioning to relief roles.
Both right-handers enjoyed previous success in that capacity over recent years, making them obvious candidates in returning to the Dodgers bullpen at arguably the most pivotal point in the season.
Where Maeda is expected to remain in the bullpen for the remainder of the year, Stripling, on the other hand, was considered more of a temporary fix for a relief corps in need of length.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts recently explained the club’s intention is for Stripling to eventually reclaim his spot in the starting rotation before the end of the season, via Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times:
“Our hope is to get Ross back in the starting rotation,” Roberts said. “He’s earned it.”
With an abundance of injuries to the starting rotation early on, Stripling stepped up and emerged as one of the Dodgers’ most reliable arms en route to his first career All-Star Game selection.
In that role this season, the 28-year-old compiled an 8-3 record with a 2.95 ERA and 1.12 WHIP across 94.2 innings pitched (17 starts).
While Stripling called a potential move back to the bullpen “disappointing” last month, he can take solace in the fact that a return to the rotation this season remains on the table.
As a reliever, Stripling owns a career 3.14 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 109 innings (66 games). That includes a minuscule 0.59 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 15.1 innings this season before taking on an increased workload as a starting pitcher.
Of course, any plan with the right-hander was temporarily put on hold because of lower back inflammation that forced Stripling to the 10-day disabled list. He’s scheduled to pitch a simulated game Friday and could be activated within a day or two if all goes well.