Dodgers News: Ross Stripling’s Role For 2017 Not Yet Determined
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Last spring the Los Angeles Dodgers opened camp with a surplus of starting pitching depth. However, Hyun-Jin Ryu’s recovery hit a snag, and multiple starters were lost to injury. That ultimately left Carlos Frias and Ross Stripling vying for the fifth spot in the rotation.

Days prior to the 2016 season beginning, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts named Stripling the club’s fifth starter. It was a significant achievement for Stripling, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2014.

He threw just 71.1 innings during the 2015 season, with 67.1 frames coming across 13 starts for Double-A Tulsa. Stripling wound up playing a pivotal role for the Dodgers, as the injury bug ravaged their pitching staff throughout the year.

As a result, the rookie worked as a starter and reliever. Although he’s a natural starting pitcher, Stripling isn’t certain what this season will entail.

“They have not come out and specifically said what my role will be,” he told David Vassegh during an appearance on Dodger Talk on AM 570 L.A. Sports Radio. “For me, I need to be ready for as many innings as possible, because that got me in trouble last year.

“I was struggling getting through the 80-pitch mark and sixth inning, so I was sent to Arizona to kind of figure it out. Hopefully this year that’s not an issue. I should just be ready, full-go for as many innings as I can take on. With that being said, I don’t know what role. If it’s 150 innings as a starter, that’s great. Or if it’s appearances out of the bullpen, that’s great. I think that’s where my value is, I can kind of do it all.”

Stripling made eight starts prior to pitching three innings in relief to finish out a 17-inning game against the San Diego Padres. The appearance meant Stripling was unavailable for an ensuing start, and the Dodgers optioned him to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

After one start with OKC, the 27-year-old was sent to Camelback Ranch to remain active throughout June without exceeding the innings limit that was previously put into place. Stripling rejoined the Dodgers in late-July, and continued to work as a starter and reliever.

In 14 games as a starter for the Dodgers, Stripling went 3-6 with a 4.52 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. He owned a 2.22 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in eight games out of the bullpen. Stripling threw 100 innings during the regular season, plus an additional 4.1 innings across five postseason appearances.

Considering Los Angeles once again projects to have ample depth in their starting rotation, but are devoid of a swingman, Stripling may be destined for a role as a relief pitcher.