The Los Angeles Dodgers have gotten off to a hot start this spring, going 4-1-1 in the first six games entering Friday night’s split-squad action.
Half of the roster is staying back at Camelback Ranch to host the San Diego Padres, while the other half is traveling to Goodyear Ballpark to take on the Cleveland Indians.
Getting the start in the road game is right-hander Ross Stripling, who is making his Cactus League debut. As has been the case in previous springs, Stripling is being built up as a starter despite potentially beginning the season in the bullpen.
Stripling is coming off an All-Star campaign with the Dodgers, although he tailed off greatly in the second half. Overall in 33 games (21 starts), Stripling went 8-6 with a 3.02 ERA, 3.42 FIP and 1.19 WHIP with 136 strikeouts and 22 walks in 122 innings.
If Clayton Kershaw’s shoulder injury causes him to miss time to begin the season, then it would likely be either Stripling or Julio Urias to take his spot in the rotation, so this is a big spring for the 29-year-old.
Getting the start for the Indians is right-hander A.J. Cole. The 27-year-old split time between the Washington Nationals and New York Yankees in 2018, posting a 6.14 ERA, 6.12 FIP and 1.59 WHIP in 32 games (two starts). He struck out 59 and walked 22 in 48.1 innings.
Cole made one start earlier this spring, allowing three hits and an unearned run in an inning of work.
He will be faced with the challenge of facing a Dodgers lineup that features Major Leaguers Joc Pederson and Kiké Hernandez as well as top prospects Alex Verdugo, Keibert Ruiz, Will Smith, Gavin Lux and Matt Beaty.
Hernandez and Beaty have both looked locked in at the plate to begin Cactus League play. Hernandez is 4-for-8 with a double, walk and three RBI in three games while Beaty is 5-for-11 with a home run, walk and three RBI in five games.
LF: Joc Pederson
CF: Alex Verdugo
2B: Kiké Hernández
3B: Matt Beaty
C: Will Smith
RF: Paolo Orlando
1B: Cameron Perkins
DH: Keibert Ruiz
SS: Gavin Lux
CF: Leonys Martin
RF: Tyler Naquin
DH: Jose Ramirez
1B: Carlos Santana
LF: Jake Bauers
C: Roberto Perez
3B: Max Moroff
SS: Yu Chang
2B: Ernie Clement