Beginning the year in the starting rotation, Ross Stripling was going into the season prepared for any role. The righty said in an interview last offseason that all he wants to do is win, so he was prepared to relieve as well as start. Last year, Stripling was in the pitching roles of reliever, middle-man and starter.
Deservedly, Strip was an All-Star thanks primarily to his success in the rotation when there were several injuries to the original starting five. In 2018, Ross had a record of 8-6 with an ERA of 3.02, making 33 appearances and starting 21 games. This season, Stripling has a record of 2-2, appearing in 18 games starting six of those while posting an ERA of 3.28.
Since starting the year in the rotation, he has moved to the pen, specifically when both Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill were healthy enough to rejoin the club. I’d say the Dodgers have a more valuable starter than a reliever in Stripling this year. In six starts, Stripling is 1-1 with an era of 2.65 over 34 innings compared to a 1-1 record with a 4.97 ERA over 12.2 innings of relief work.
At the moment, the Dodgers’ best move could be to moving righty Kenta Maeda to the pen, giving Stripling a chance to be a consistent fifth starter. This isn’t to say that Madea doesn’t have value as a starter, I just think the best thing for the Dodgers would be to have Stripling in the rotation and Maeda in the bullpen, especially when considering Maeda’s past success in relief.
Another option could be to send Maeda or someone else deserving of a break to the injured list, allowing Stripling to get a couple starts to get back into the groove of things. Last year, Stripling struggled after the All-Star break—I’m guessing that was due to fatigue since the most innings Stripling had previously thrown was 100 in a season, increasing that total to 122 in 2018.
Before the 2018 All-Star game, Stripling posted a record of 8-2 with a 2.08 ERA over 95.1 innings, and after the All-Star break went 0-4 with a 6.41 ERA in 26.2 innings. Stripling was a starter for most of 2018 but did make 12 relief appearances with an impressive 0.57 era over 15.2 Innings compared to his overall 3.39 ERA in 106.1 innings. He certainly has shown he can do it all and is a very good piece for the Dodgers to have, but I think he should be in the rotation.
Even Stripling himself said he hasn’t proven to be the best of relief arms.