Ross Stripling: The hero we didn’t think we needed

Photo credit:© Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Brennan Delaney
1 year ago
Remember the COVID shortened season?
In my opinion, the front office didn’t do the best job of helping the team win. Yes, they brought in Taijuan Walker for Alberto Rodriguez (Seattle’s #8 prospect). They also traded for Jonathan Villar, which is already a loss in and of itself. In fairness, they did get Robbie Ray, however, he’d have been a free agent at the end of the season.
The other trade, which my friend was not happy about (hi Tristan!) saw the Jays #11 prospect at the time, Kendall Williams and former top 30 prospect, Ryan Noda traded to the Dodgers for Ross Stripling.

Prior to 2020:

Many were upset due to his 2020 stats, but Stripling was pretty damn good with the Dodgers in his four seasons prior to 2020. In his 387 innings pitched, he had a 3.51 ERA and 3.60 FIP. Stripling’s role was that of a start spotter, as he only started 22 of his 52 games that he appeared in.
He also had a rather low BB/9 of 2.1, with a rather impressive K/9 of 8.8. On a team with a bunch of great starters and some key relievers, Stripling was still an important piece that helped the Dodgers make every postseason of his four year career.

Stripling’s 2020:

Stripling’s 2020 prior to the trade wasn’t very good. In 33.2 innings pitched, he had a 5.61 ERA and 7.29 FIP. Furthermore, he had a 7.22 K/9 and 2.94 BB/9. This was paired with a ground ball percentage of 33%, by far the lowest in his career (his previous low was 45.4%). This means the majority of his outs were fly balls, hence the inflated FIP.
He arguably got worse in his first partial season with the Jays as well. In 15.2 innings pitched, his ERA increased to 6.32, while his BB/9 jumped to 4.02. However, his FIP was a solid 3.70 and his K/9 increased to 7.47. Furthermore, his ground ball percentage jumped back up to 55.1%.

Stripling’s turbulent 2021:

Due to having a few seasons left of control, Stripling was re-signed, but got off to a rocky start. In his first 25 innings pitched, he had a 7.20 ERA and a 5.45 FIP. While his BB/9 dropped back to 2.88 and his K/9 increased to 10.44, he allowed 7 home runs in just a short amount of time.
However, in his next 68.1 innings pitched, we saw the old Stripling. In that time frame, he had an ERA of 3.29 and a FIP of 4.60 while his BB/9 sat at 2.63. His K/9 dropped back to 8.17, but all in all, Stripling became a valuable 5th starter.
The thing is, Stripling was absolutely blown up in one of those games against the Red Sox. On July 19th, he pitched just a third of an inning and allowed six runs. My working theory is that Boston had a tell on Stripling, as they also lit him up for 6 runs on May 19th, which funnily enough, was the last game before the 68.1 innings pitched.
Let’s remove that one bad third of an inning. In 68 innings pitched, Stripling allowed just 19 earned runs for an ERA of 2.51. We can do this, because one third of an inning shouldn’t contaminate our much larger sample size.
On August 11th, he landed on the 10-Day IL with an oblique strain (because of course he did). Stripling missed an entire month of action, and when he came back, he struggled. In 8 innings pitched, he had a 10.13 ERA and a 9.67 FIP. He also allowed four homers in that time frame, which is worrisome.

Stripling’s start to 2022:

Unlike the 2021 season, Stripling has started the new season off quite well. In 19 innings pitched, he has a 3.79 ERA and 2.83 FIP. While his K/9 has dropped to 7.11, his BB/9 has plummeted to 1.89, which would be a career best if he keeps it up. His changeup has also got the second most swings and misses.
To couple that, his ground ball percentage has jumped back to 52.5%, meaning that if he’s not striking batters out, he’s getting the second best outcome for a pitcher.
Furthermore, he has only allowed one homer, which came in his last outing against the Yankees. Stripling pitched against Boston and had a line of 5 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K as well, meaning that his mechanics may have changed.
In my opinion, he has surpassed Hyun-Jin Ryu, who has struggled for the past season and a bit, as the fifth starter. It’s entirely possible that the Blue Jays don’t see it this way and will move Ross back to the pen, but I think we should know that Ross Stripling is the hero we didn’t think we needed.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D. Kendall Williams has faltered a little bit (he’s only 21), but Ryan Noda is looking like he’ll become an important bench piece for the Dodgers, maybe even a regular starter. This trade worked out for both teams.



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