Even before the season was suspended due to the nationwide distruption caused by COVID-19, Ross Stripling was already having a pretty eventful offseason. He was initially part of the Dodgers flurry of moves to acquire Mookie Betts, with a reported trade that would have sent him to the Angels ultimately falling apart. It left Stripling back where he was, in a swing man role for the Dodgers.
That's on the list of things we know about the 2020 season, and it's a pretty short list these days. We still don't know when Opening Day will be, and as more proposed plans to get the season underway amidst the nationwide disruption caused by COVID-19, more and more questions come along with them.
On the Fantasy Baseball Today podcast this week, Frank Stampfl and Scott White had the opportunity to speak with Stripling about the uncertainty around the league.
Stripling provided insight into how he and his fellow pitchers are approaching their training after having spring training cut short, as well as his thoughts on how long a second spring training would need to be for pitchers to get ready — four starts, more or less. Stripling also gave his thoughts on the proposed schedules that would potentially see every team playing in some combination of Arizona, Texas, and Florida, and what it's like to pitch in Arizona, specifically (a lot like Coors Field, as it turns out).
You can listen to the interview with Stripling, or you can read highlights of the interview below.
Fantasy Baseball Today: I hope you and your family are staying safe. With everything going on, how are you holding up?
Stripling: Yeah. You know, in a time like this, all you can ask for is your friends and family to be healthy and safe, which knock on wood mine are. We've been able to all kind of do the social distancing thing. But I'm a little stir crazy. I'm not used to being home this time of year. You know, I'm used to being, heck, 20 games, 25 games into our season by now already. So, holding on as best we can, but definitely ready for some sports to be back soon.
FBT: So, on the subject of normally pitching right now, are you doing any throwing on the side? What sort of things are you doing to stay in shape?
Stripling: Yeah. You know, the CDC probably doesn't want to hear it, but I think most of us are still working out as if it's a normal offseason. You know, as if it's January 1st, like I'm still able to go into the gym. We're just doing it in smaller groups. You know, when normally you might workout in four or five, six at a time in the offseason. Right now, we're working out two at a time. So, I'm still able to put on, you know, and keep the strength up that you have heading into spring training and kind of keeping a normal offseason as if it's January 1st. I kind of took a few weeks off from throwing on the mound. And now it's kind of started that build-up process back. And, you know, so really there's no excuses, at least for me and the guys that I'm around as far as staying in baseball shape, because we have every opportunity. It's just the rest of the days spent in trying to pass the time. That's where it's difficult.
FBT: So, you're talking like starting pitchers maybe needing three starts. Something like that?
Stripling: Yeah. I think, you know, they'll be I think there will be a big group of starting pitchers that get ready beforehand. Let's say a date comes out in its Fourth of July just to be conservative. I think June 1st, starting pitchers will start building up on their own, getting to where they can comfortably throw two or three innings heading into spring training. I think teams and coaches and stuff will try and get that initiative going that way. When Spring Training 2.0 starts, hopefully most starting pitchers are built up to comfortably on two or three innings. That way, those first few outings, you can already go to three, maybe three, four, five, and you don't need, you know, four or five outings in a second spring training to get built up. You already have a little bit built up in there before you even show up to whoever the second spring training is.
FBT: MLB's latest proposal, first reported by CBS Sports' R.J. Anderson, includes teams playing in just three states. It came out just the other day. The Arizona, Texas and Florida. Obviously, there are a number of factors in play here. But what do you think of this scenario? Because we've already heard from people like Mike Trout. Even your teammate, Clayton Kershaw. There's been a little bit of pushback here on this. Now, what say you when it comes to this latest proposal?
Stripling: Yeah, there's certainly some quick pushback when they're from some big names in the baseball world about leaving your family for four and a half months. I don't think guys wanted to do that. You know, the one getting everyone in Arizona, I think when I first read it just seemed impossible to live a quarantine life for four months. No family. All you're doing is bus to and from a hotel to the field. You know, it just doesn't seem possible sitting in the stands and our uniform. That's not baseball. Why not wait another month, hopefully where it's a little safer. Not as many cases. And, you know, when we're kind of past the coronavirus stuff and then put the real product on the field.
As far as the new one, I think it's doable. You know, you talk about indoor stadiums, and all those states, all of them are pretty good weather states. Not going to have a lot of rain outs, especially since most the stadiums are indoor anyways. And we're still spread out a little bit. And then, you know, you can kind of cycle teams through those states, right. So, like 10 teams go to one and then you get five out to another state, another five come in, that way we can play different people. I think it makes more sense than that initial proposal of everyone going to Arizona. But it still seems a little far-fetched. And when you start talking to baseball players and staff and telling them, you know, you're gonna be away from your family for possibly months. You know, guys are going to struggle with that.
But at the end of day, that's what we have to do to play baseball. I'm sure most guys would get on board with it.
Make sure to subscribe to Fantasy Baseball today here!