With the Los Angeles Dodgers in need of a fifth starting pitcher after injuries decimated the rotation and the initial backup option — Mike Bolsinger — the club went with Ross Stripling over Carlos Frias in an announcement days before the 2016 season began.
Stripling made his Major League debut against the rival San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. All the rookie right-hander did was put together 7.1 no-hit innings. Stripling, two years removed from Tommy John surgery, was lifted after throwing his 100th pitch of the game.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts faced criticism for his decision, though stood by it and had Stripling’s support. Stripling’s father, and Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman also backed Roberts.
There wasn’t any drama in Stripling’s Dodger Stadium debut on Thursday night as he allowed a leadoff single to Jean Segura in the first inning. He nonetheless proceeded to put together another strong outing.
“It’s just good to have these two behind you and now you can treat them all the same,” Stripling said of checking off his MLB and home debuts. “Obviously, some seem more important than others and certain teams are hyped up more, but just to be able to go out there and throw strikes is obviously huge for the confidence.”
With two outings under his belt, Stripling has gained confidence and is focused on the usual work that comes between starts. “You know in your head that you can get guys out at the Major League level, so now it’s really about barring down, reading scouting reports, and getting after every team and just doing my game and not trying to do too much,” he said.
Roberts acknowledged the rookie has shown good composure for a rookie, while also crediting Stripling’s teammates. “I think that it’s great, but I think we look at the guys we have on this team that have really put their arms around him,” Roberts said.
“You look at A.J. (Ellis), as far as a veteran catcher, who’s just got a great way about him, has kind of helped Ross break in. [Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt] has such a way about him as well. So I think that you look at all these components, for any young player trying to break in with our club, it makes it a little bit easier.”
Stripling’s next outing is scheduled for April 20 against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Based on early performance, he can expect to remain in the rotation for weeks ahead.