Dodgers: Making a Case for Ross Stripling in This Year’s Rotation

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 27: Ross Stripling
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 27: Ross Stripling /

Ross Stripling might be the best option for the Dodgers in the starting rotation if they choose to no bring back Yu Darvish.

The Dodgers have had a relatively quiet offseason thus far. After a heartbreaking game 7 loss in the World Series at the hands of the Houston Astros it seems like the team is pretty content with their current roster. After all, the team did just get to their first World Series since 1988 and finished one game short of winning it all so it’s not like they need to make drastic upgrades. The team has already passed up multiple opportunities to trade for superstar players and sign marquee free agents.

Andrew Friedman and Farhad Zaidi’s biggest moves this offseason so far was a salary dump trade in which they moved fan favorite Adrian Gonzalez and brought back former Dodger all-star Matt Kemp. However, one of the Dodgers biggest holes to fill is the fifth spot in the starting rotation. If they choose to not bring back Yu Darvish they will have an open slot in the rotation to fill. Chances are they would have an open competition for this spot come spring training with several different pitchers. As of right now, the Dodgers have five starters under contract for next season: Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu.

The Dodgers have a solid top three with Kershaw, Wood, and Hill. Kershaw is still arguably the best pitcher in the game, Wood is coming off a breakout all-star season, and Hill has been one of the best lefties in the game over the last two years. Maeda who came out of the bullpen at times last season and even came out of the bullpen exclusively during the playoffs would most likely start the season in the rotation being that he is one of the few righty starters they have. That leaves the fifth spot open for either Ryu, Walker Buehler, Ross Stripling or someone else.

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Looking at these players I believe Stripling should really get some consideration for that final spot. Ryu wasn’t bad last year posting a 3.77 era in 24 starts, but he was inconsistent and no longer has the velocity after all his injuries. His FIP of 4.74 was actually the highest among all the starters last season and the Dodgers don’t really want to have another lefty in the rotation. Buehler who is the Dodgers top prospect will have a lot of hype going into next season but he still might not be ready to be a starter at the major league level.

Stripling might be the most suited to be the choice here for the Dodgers. Stripling started only 2 games for the Dodgers last season but he did start 14 games for them in 2016. He spent most of last season being the long reliever for the team pitching the most innings out of anybody in the bullpen. He had a 3.75 ERA in 74.1 IP and a solid 3.68 FIP which was better than even Rich Hill. In 2016 he posted a 3.96 ERA in 100 IP and did a decent job as a spot starter being that he was a rookie. Everyone remembers his first career start when he pitched 7.1 no-hit innings against the hated Giants in San Francisco nonetheless before Roberts pulled him in a controversial decision.

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The Dodgers ended losing that game for him but Stripling quickly should he could pitch in the big leagues. At only 27 years old Stripling is just now entering the prime of his career. He is never going to be an ace but he is now ready to get the opportunity to be a mainstay in a big league rotation. He isn’t going to blow anybody away but he is pretty reliable as a fifth option. I think he is a good choice to start the season with especially if Buehler isn’t quite ready. If Buehler tears up the minors after a couple of months then sure he can take over that spot, but for now Stripling should get a shot to prove he belongs. He might be the best option the Dodgers have come next season if the team doesn’t do anything this offseason.