Ross Stripling started his major league career off with a bang when he threw 7.1 no-hit innings against the Giants in his Dodgers debut. It was certainly unexpected for a pitcher who had never played above Double-A, never made a top-100 prospect list and only joined the Opening Day rotation due to injuries to other pitchers. After his memorable debut, Stripling bounced between the rotation and bullpen and was occasionally benched due to an innings limit stemming from 2014 Tommy John surgery. The most notable weapon in his arsenal is an above-average curveball that backs up his low-90s heat, a combination that didn't generate many strikeouts (6.7 K/9) but did add up to a roughly league-average ERA of 3.96. He eventually settled in as the Dodgers' long man in the bullpen and occupied that role in the playoffs. That will likely be his planned role again in 2017, though he will also provide starting depth for a team that has desperately needed it the last couple of years.
Stripling will not make the Dodgers' rotation out of spring training, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. Stripling still has a chance to make the club as a reliever, but since the Dodgers seem committed to using one of Alex Wood or Brandon McCarthy in the bullpen, even that isn't guaranteed. Stripling was solid in 22 games (14 starts) for Los Angeles last year, posting a 3.96 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, so even if he has to open the season in the minors, it wouldn't surprise to see him in Chavez Ravine at some point in 2017.
If Stripling doesn't win the Dodgers' fifth starter job this spring, he could stick on the 25-man roster as a reliever, the LA Times reports. This move would make sense considering the Dodgers' lack of bullpen depth behind the recently re-signed Kenley Jansen. Stripling posted a 3.96 ERA in 22 appearances (14 starts) in his rookie season last year, showing that he can pitch in the majors as a swingman.
Stripling (4-6) gave up two runs on three hits and struck out five over five innings in a win Tuesday over Arizona. Stripling is approaching an innings limit and wasn't showing his normal velocity, so he was removed after just 66 pitches despite what looks on paper like a solid five frames. Considering the Dodgers have an expanded roster bullpen to play with, it probably isn't worth expecting Stripling to go deep in whatever games he appears in down the stretch. The rookie has done a fine job filling into the Dodgers rotation, posting a 4.12 ERA and a 62:25 K:BB in 87.1 innings, but the Dodgers would probably rather take their chances with a reliever than let Stripling face a lineup for the third time around.
Stripling pitched three runs on nine hits and one walk with two strikeouts in Wednesday's loss to the Rockies. The fact that Stripling, who now rides a three-game losing streak, managed a quality start at Coors Field is somewhat amazing in itself. He was tagged for a season-high nine hits, but managed to escape disaster at every turn, inducing multiple double-plays while matching his season high with 12 ground outs. Stripling is barely hanging on to his starting role, and with rosters expanding, he'll likely be the odd-man out if a change takes place. For now, the right-hander is slated to start again Tuesday versus Arizona.
Stripling will pitch Wednesday against the Rockies, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports. Stripling has struggled during his last two starts, allowing six runs over 10 innings between said outings. With a 4.13 ERA and 1.27 WHIP, Stripling has left much to be desired when he takes the mound. He'll have his work cut out for him Wednesday when he pitches against the Rockies at Coors Field, the most hitter-friendly environment in the league.