Ross Stripling figures to have a role in the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen come the regular season, but his Spring Training debut was a start against the Chicago White Sox. He worked around a single for a scoreless first inning and completed more throwing in the bullpen.
Although Stripling only faced four batters, he managed to get over his new changeup three times. “I felt good warming up, it feels good to see other guys with different jerseys in the batter’s box and mix in just about everything,” Stripling said.
“I mixed in a change to a righty, which has kind of been a priority this spring. It’s coming along good, especially for changing up the grip completely. To be able to throw it with confidence to hitters in my first game, I feel good about it.
“I got a check-swing almost for a strikeout. Got a swing-and-miss on 1-0 and take on 1-1 that was probably just a ball out of my hand. Feel good. Just have to keep working on it, trusting it and throwing it when I get the chance.”
Stripling found success with his changeup last season but sensed an opportunity to refine, if not improve, the pitch. “If you talk to other hitters, even guys on our team, guys in the dugout, everyone says, ‘I can kind of see your changeup,'” he explained.
“Even though it had decent results, good groundball rate, a lot of soft contact. Last year, I think people could still see it, which at the end of the day, if you can hide it better, that’s priority. We got the Edgertronic cameras and you could see it spinning funny out of my hand, almost knuckling out of my hand before it started to spin.
“So I think right out of my hand you could be like, ‘changeup.’ Now this one is spinning quickly right out of my hand and is on a better axis. It seems like it has similar deception.”
Stripling began experimenting with a new changeup grip when throwing during the offseason, and he brought it to Connor McGuiness upon reporting for Spring Training. “Basically, we got my ring finger totally out of the way,” Stripling said.
“I was still kind of throwing it with my ring finger, so by getting it out of the way I’m throwing it with my middle finger and ripping down on the lace. It’s much more consistent and better action.
“I was having success with it (last season), but kind of to lefties only. I just think with righties, to be able to show another weapon now in my fifth year, is a good adjustment to make.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was pleased with Stripling’s overall showing against the White Sox, and noted there is growing confidence with his new changeup. “I think he’s got a really good feel for it,” Roberts said.
“It’s got the action that it needs. It’s been good in his ‘pens and I think today he executed some good ones.”
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