Stripling, Dodgers Strive for Redemption Against Padres

April 14, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Ross Stripling (68) throws in the first inning against Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Often criticized during the initial month of the 2016 campaign, Alex Wood couldn’t have thrown any better against the Padres on Friday night. The lefty starter lasted seven strong innings and scattered only five hits and a walk, while allowing just one earned run and striking out a season-high nine batters.

Great news for Wood who made a minor tweak in his delivery in an attempt to regain consistency and timing. However, the Dodgers continue to have other problems that seem to be becoming more severe — most specifically, eighth inning bullpen effectiveness and an offense that’s been hibernating for the past five games.

Manager Dave Roberts sensed the need for some type of catalyst, and held a private team meeting behind closed doors before the series opener on Friday — yet at the end of the day, nothing really changed.

“I think most of it is mental” Roberts said. “You can tell them to relax and not chase hits and to have good at-bats, but when you step in that box you see them trying to do a little too much right now. It’s not from lack of preparation, work. They just have to ease off the gas a little bit.”

Dating back to the beginning of the series against the Marlins, the Dodgers have scored only nine runs in the past 45 innings — an average of less than two runs per game.

The current five-game losing streak is not only the team’s longest since August of last season, it is their longest home losing streak since May of 2013, when they lost eight straight.

Even if the bats decide to rise from the dead, the issues in the bullpen may be a bit more difficult to address. Despite very few bright spots sporadically earlier in the season, setup man Chris Hatcher‘s efforts have been ugly.

Roberts dismissed the idea that the current dilemma was the cause of specific roles of certain players, and admitted that the walk to start the eighth inning on Friday was perhaps the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“It’s actually not a role thing, it’s that Peety [Baez] was down and Kenley was going to pitch the ninth. Blanton has thrown [a lot], so it was a day where at that point and time [Hatcher] was a guy we were going to go to,” Roberts said. “I think that the execution with Kemp, and to walk the leadoff hitter, you can’t walk the leadoff hitter to start an inning when you know [Travis] Jankowski is in the wings to run for him. Yeah, I think that, you know, I’m going to look at it.”

Regardless, the Dodgers will send rookie Ross Stripling to the mound on Saturday, and despite being relatively effective overall, is still in search of his first career victory.

Amidst a mini-slump of his own, Yasiel Puig gets the night off and is replaced by Enrique Hernandez in right. In spite of questionable defensive skills and the lack of offensive production as of late, Carl Crawford will start in left field.

Having fared very well in his last three starts, Colin Rea will take the bump for the Friars.

First pitch is slated for 6:10 p.m. local time.

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