The Los Angeles Dodgers have been forced to deal with a multitude of injuries over the last few weeks, and one of those was to Ross Stripling.
He has been out since July 24 due to neck stiffness that led to biceps tendinitis. Stripling was originally expected to begin a rehab assignment this week, but his neck has continued to give him issues, so that plan was scrapped.
“From what I understand it’s kind of been pushed back a week,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of the plan with Stripling.
“I’m not sure when he’s going to pick up a baseball and throw another ‘pen. Obviously the longer he’s out, the more it’s going to take to build him back up. He said he felt better but right now we still won’t know until he throws off a mound.”
Roberts added that because of the setback and the short amount of time remaining in the season, Stripling will now likely return as a relief pitcher.
“I do think when you’re talking about where we’re at on the calendar with this injury that he sustained, the bullpen, that option is probably the most logical,” Roberts explained. “The buildup is substantially less, which is a good thing as far as him coming back to us.”
Dustin May has gotten an opportunity in the rotation since Stripling landed on the 10-day injured and in his first two starts has made the most of it. Although the Dodgers have not given any indication one way or the other, it would not be surprising if May remained in the rotation.
The original plan was for the young right-hander to potentially be moved to the bullpen in anticipation of a postseason relief role. Though, considering his previous experience as a reliever, Tony Gonsolin may be a more likely candidate.
As it currently stands, options fo a fourth pitcher in the postseason are May, Kenta Maeda, Gonsolin, and the favorite, Rich Hill, if he is able to return from a flexor strain.
Stripling has pitched to a 4.02 ERA with 16 strikeouts in 15.2 innings across 14 appearances out of the bullpen this season. Should Stripling manage to prove he is healthy when he returns, he conceivably could figure into that postseason bullpen picture.