When Ross Stripling was removed from his July 24 start due to neck stiffness, the injury was not considered to be serious and was hopeful to make his next turn when the Los Angeles Dodgers faced the Colorado Rockies.
However, the neck trouble evolved into right biceps tendinitis, which led to the Dodgers placing Stripling on the 10-day injured list. He’s made a rather speedy recovery, playing catch during the Dodgers’ recent road trip and then throwing a simulated game at Dodger Stadium on Saturday.
“It was good,” Stripling said. “I threw 25, pretty much max effort. No problems. Didn’t get much of an idea moving forward, but I think it sounds like some version of an up-down on Tuesday.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was among though watching and liked what he saw. “He really looked good. Threw all of his pitches, the ball was coming out well,” Roberts said.
“To get him on assignment — I would say Rancho makes the most sense in a few days — to do an up and down, I don’t know if it’s going to be a two-inning thing and then a third inning in the ‘pen.”
On Sunday, Roberts reaffirmed the plan remains for Stripling to pitch for a Minor League affiliate on Tuesday. “After that, then we’ll see if we need to keep stretching him out or get him back here with us.”
As has been the case the last few years, Stripling has gone back and forth between the rotation and bullpen this season. In 26 games (12 starts), the right-hander is 4-4 with a 3.64 ERA, 3.92 FIP and 1.17 WHIP with 76 strikeouts and 19 walks in 76.2 innings.
With top pitching prospect Dustin May impressing in his MLB debut and earning a second start, the club is not yet sure what Stripling’s role will be when he returns.
“We’ll have those conversations, because if it’s a two-inning, then a rotation thing, we’ve got to extend him a little bit more,” Roberts said. “We’re going to continue to talk about that. When he does finish that rehab start, we’ll know if he needs another one or if he’ll just get back into the ‘pen.”
If Stripling is going to play a role out of the bullpen in the postseason, keeping him there for the rest of the season would make sense. Although Rich Hill’s uncertainty as he works to return from a flexor strain could also change matters.