Saturday, April 2, 2016

Meet Your New Number 5 Starter, Ross Stripling

The Los Angeles Dodgers have announced that rookie Ross Stripling, a fifth round draft pick from Texas A&M in 2012, will be the fifth starter in the rotation to start the 2016 season.  The news came as a bit of a shock as many presumed Carlos Frias, who made 13 starts for the Dodgers last year, to fill the spot start role yet again as it came down to those two.  After Brett Anderson's injury and Hyun-Jin Ryu's longer rehab schedule, Mike Bolsinger was almost assuredly going to be the number 5 starter for the time being until an abdominal injury (which currently has no timetable for a return) will sideline him as well.  Zach Lee's fall from grace as a top prospect also will continue as he was dismissed as an option earlier this week.  Ross Stripling is a rookie in every sense of the word as he has never pitched above the AA level.  Stripling had Tommy John surgery in 2014 which sidelined him that whole year but he managed to pitch 71 innings last year at both A and AA ball.  Manager Dave Roberts addressed that at the start of camp the plan had been for Stripling to make his debut in September when the rosters expand but the wealth of injuries suffered in spring has forced the Dodgers to make some tough decisions.

Stripling's numbers in the minor leagues have been fairly good but his position in the farm system, a system ranked by many as the best in baseball, hasn't been outstanding.  As it stands he's considered the 25th best prospect in the farm system according to which puts him behind names like Julio Urias, Jose De Leon, Grant Holmes, Walker Buehler, and even Zach Lee.  Most of those names are younger and on tight innings limits as they progress through the minor leagues with as much protection as possible as they are considered the future stars of the Dodgers.  In 235.1 innings at both A and AA, Stripling has a 2.83 ERA, 1.105 WHIP, 8.1 K/9, and a 3.74 BB/K ratio.  They're all pretty solid numbers but with a small sample size and in the minor leagues to boot, it's still very unclear how he will perform until he gets his first start, which is projected to be on April 8th against the Giants in San Francisco no less.  AT&T Park is about as good as any park to pitch in the last couple of years which could be a boost for Stripling, but the Giants offensively aren't pushovers as they led the National League in wRC+ last year.  It'll be exciting to see what the guy can do as stories like these are always great for the game and always fun to follow.  Plus he makes hilarious faces during his windup.

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