With Rich Hill heading to the 10-day DL for the second time this season, does Ross Stripling deserve a chance to start? He’s been pitching out of the bullpen this season, but maybe it’s time he gets a chance in the rotation.
The Dodgers are once again dealing with Hill’s blister problem. After only pitching three innings in Sunday’s game against the Diamondbacks, Hill was pulled due to blister inflammation. Hill’s blisters have been a problem since the Dodgers picked him up from the A’s last season. After signing Hill to a three-year contract, many fans hoped the blisters were a thing of the past.
The Dodgers have a few options to fill in for Hill while he’s on the DL, although none of these guys are number two starters. But they can still help out.
Alex Wood got his chance last time Hill was put on the shelf, but he was pulled fairly quickly after surrendering two runs (one earned) and five walks in only 3.2 innings. The end result wasn’t necessarily bad, but the lack of control certainly was, and doesn’t help his case. Not to mention, he’s been solid coming out of the bullpen for the Dodgers. Wood has allowed zero hits and only one walk in 5.1 innings out of the pen, along with four strikeouts.
Then there’s Ross Stripling, who is another starter that has done well out of the bullpen. In fact, Stripling is putting up better numbers than Wood is. He has made five appearances so far this season and has only given up one run, which came in his first appearance of 2017.
Since that appearance, he has pitched 6.2 innings, and has collected 10 strikeouts and just one walk. He’s also given up just three hits since then, which all happened to come in one game, yet no one scored then.
Stripling is showing great composure on the mound and being brought in from the bullpen is helping him get used to high-leverage situations. He’s also showing tremendous control with a 13:1 K:BB ratio.
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Stripling is a right-hander, which doesn’t hurt considering the Dodgers already have two southpaws in the rotation in Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-jin Ryu. Adding another righty may be a good thing because it would add balance.
Stripling struggled at times during his first big league season in 2016. He was hit a lot and gave up quite a few runs en route to a 5-9 record and 3.96 ERA. These stats are concerning when you think about him being a consistent starter.
However, struggles are normal for rookies in any sport so do not look too much into them. Expect him to get better because Stripling showed a lot of improvement during this past offseason and Spring Training.
The biggest thing that I see from Stripling is his control. In 8.2 innings he has only given up one walk while striking out 13. His only appearance in which he struggled was his first of the season and it’s hard to even say he truly struggled then. He gave up just one run and struck out three in two innings of work.
He’s had more appearances than Wood and he’s also putting up noticeably better numbers. In totality thus far, Stripling’s season line reads: 8.2 IP, one earned run, seven hits, one walk, and 13 strikeouts.
The Dodgers have options to take over Hill’s spot for the time being, but I believe Stripling deserves his shot. With the numbers he’s putting up out of the bullpen, I would love to see how it translates into starts.
Wood may end up with the spot because he is a little bit more established than Stripling, but the Dodgers do like to give their younger players opportunities. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.