Ross Stripling became one of the greatest stories of the 2018 season. He was a key member of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitching staff and provided valuable contributions until he ran out of gas.
After starting the season in the bullpen, Stripling was forced into the rotation thanks to an onslaught of injuries. He excelled there, earning his way to a spot in the 2018 All-Star Game. From his first start of the season on April 30 through July 13, Stripling pitched to a stellar 2.33 ERA, striking out 92 while issuing just eight walks.
In the second half of the season, though, Stripling started showing signs of fatigue. He struggled to the tune of a 6.41 ERA after the All-Star break. He remained in the starting rotation for the rest of 2018, but was moved back to the bullpen for the playoffs.
Despite the rough ending to 2018, Stripling values the time he spent as a starter. He spoke to Dave Vassegh about it in a recent appearance on AM 570 L.A. Sports Radio:
You can’t really plan or prepare yourself for starting 25 games at the Major League level until you do it. I think it just kind of snowballed on me. I was feeling great, feeling great, things are going well and all of a sudden it kind of — not necessarily fell apart — but I didn’t have the energy I did in April and May.
You’ve got to find a way to either tailor your workouts back or do something different in the weight room so that when August, September and even October come around, you’ve got just as much energy. That kind of only comes with experience, and I hadn’t started consistently since the Minor Leagues. Hopefully that was a learning process. Hopefully I got that under my belt now. I might end up the whole year in the bullpen but I also might make 20-something starts. At least I’m ready for that if that’s what comes.
Stripling initially seemed unlikely to find a spot in the Dodgers’ rotation at the beginning of 2019. With full health, Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda have secured spots in the rotation.
Though, Kershaw’s recent shoulder inflammation may impact his availability come Opening Day. That presumably would create an opportunity for Stripling, but Julio Urias is also making a push to earn his way into the rotation.
Stripling may not be called upon to start as many games as he did in 2018, but remains a talented and versatile part of the Dodgers’ pitching staff. And seems prepared to take on whatever role the Dodgers need from him this season.