Stripling came into 2019 on the heels of an All-Star 2018 campaign. However, his ever-fluctuating role and a bicep injury limited his ceiling in 2019.
That being said, ‘Chicken Strip’ was still an effective pitcher in 2019, even in just 90.2 innings, which is good news because our favorite starter/reliever/stockbroker/podcaster is likely facing a workload increase in 2020.
Stripling began the season in the rotation in place of the injured Rich Hill, making seven starts before the veteran lefty returned. Stripling pitched well in his first rotation stint, posting a 2.65 ERA in that span. He gave up 3 runs in a third of an inning in his first outing in the bullpen, but was solid for the rest of his bullpen tenure.
Hill went down with injury again shortly before the All-Star break, and Stripling was again called upon to rejoin the rotation. However, he struggled to the tune of a 4.88 ERA for the month of July, and wound up on the Injured List with tendonitis in his bicep.
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Stripling missed the entire month of August, but bounced back with a 2.57 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over six outings (three starts) in September. Overall, he finished 2019 with a 3.47 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 4-4 record, and 93 strikeouts over 90.2 innings, and made 15 starts.
I previously mentioned that Stripling’s production took a slight hit, and I’d like to emphasize the slight. He was very effective; a sub-3.50 ERA and 1.15 WHIP are nothing to scoff at. However, he did miss a month and fell just short of his numbers from his All-Star 2018 season. Stripling’s walk rate went up from an elite 4.4% in 2018 to a still-respectable 5.4% in 2019.
This subtle decrease in Stripling’s control could’ve factored into his minor regression. His K%, hard-hit %, launch angle, and exit velocity allowed all changed by small ticks in the wrong direction. The arm injury may or may not have been to blame, but either way Stripling’s production only took a small step back in 2019 despite the various roles he played for LA.
Ross Stripling 2019 Season Grade: B-
Stripling was productive, but not quite as productive as we know he can be, and not toeing the rubber in the month of August didn’t exactly do him any favors.
Fortunately, Stripling looked good in his return from the IL, and appears poised to take on more of a starting role following the departure of Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu in free agency. If he can expand his innings pitched back up to around 130-150 innings, he should grade higher in 2020.