After beginning the 2018 season in the bullpen, injuries forced Ross Stripling into the Los Angeles Dodgers starting rotation and the right-hander thrived. Stripling went 8-2 with a 2.08 ERA in 25 games (18 starts) during the first half and was named an All-Star.
His success waned during the second half of the season, however, in some part because Stripling dealt with toe and back trouble. As the Dodgers made another run to the World Series, Stripling was left off each of their three postseason rosters.
As Stripling is in the midst of another season that is requiring the Dodgers to lean on his versatility, the 29-year-old is mindful of moving past the lingering disappointment from 2018. “It’s very much a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately kind of sport,” Stripling said.
“I didn’t make the playoff roster, and that’s the first thing I think of. So I know it’s the first thing other people think of. I think that was the thing in Spring Training, was to make sure and try and put it back in other people’s minds but also get my own confidence back. Knowing that the second half was the fluke, not the first half.”
Stripling reported to Spring Training projected to begin the season in the bullpen. He nonetheless was stretched out as a starter, which proved to be prudent as Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill both began the 2019 campaign on the 10-day injured list.
“I’m proud to be the guy they counted on last year and so far this year,” Stripling said. He’s learned to see value in being a hybrid starter and relief pitcher. It admittedly took multiple seasons for Stripling to accept and find comfort in the lack of a defined role.
Having provided the Dodgers with multiple quality starts this season, he again is poised to head to the bullpen as Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu return.