Many people, myself included, felt that Ross Stripling’s ceiling was as a #5 starter, notwithstanding the fact that he almost pitched a no-hitter a couple of years ago to start the season. Ross has been a nice piece in the bullpen and occasional spot starter, but in his last four appearances he has been the starter. He went 4.0 innings in his first start, 5.1 in his second start, 6.0 innings in his third start and 6.2 in his last start. His pitch count has increased from 68 to 79 to 96 to 105.
At age 28, Ross Stripling is coming into his own for two reasons: (1) he is finally getting a chance; and (2) he has a new “killer” pitch. In his last four starts his strikeouts have went from 5 to 7 to 9 to 10 and in his first start he walked two batters, but has not walked one since. Currently, his ERA is 1.74 and in 41.1 IP he has 50 strikeouts to go with just 9 BB. Yes, he is making the most of the opportunity, but it’s his new pitch that has made him increasingly more effective.
Writing forThe Athletic, Fabian Ardaya says that Ross Stripling has a new “secret” pitch, which he has been working on for some time with Rick Honeycutt. Ross has four pitches and all are OK or above, but not anything outstanding, so he has been working on a “cutter.” This is a pay site, which I strongly recommend, so I can’t publish much, but here are two paragraphs:
As Stripling walked into Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona for spring training, he had one goal in mind — perfect the cutter, especially as a backdoor pitch to lefties. He and Honeycutt began mixing the pitch into bullpens, flat-ground sessions and toyed with the development of the pitch even as the season began. Injuries to Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu forced Stripling back into the starting rotation, coinciding perfectly with the new comfort level Stripling was able to develop with the pitch.
Now, as he throws the two pitches, he maintains the same cutter grip, both fingers along the horizontal seam of the baseball. To righties, it’s typical slider, snapping off the wrist to develop topspin and depth to the pitch along with a little horizontal break. Against lefties, it’s a cutter, thrown with the same motion and high release point as his four-seam fastball, with a natural cutting action. It’s atypical action for a cutter, and below-average horizontal and vertical break for a slider, but the slight difference has done wonders. Brooks Baseball and Baseball Savant each classify Stripling’s cutters as sliders due to just how similar they are in velocity and movement.
Ross Stripling was #7 on the Dodgers’ starting pitcher depth chart (Striker Buehler was #6), so the Dodgers do have some depth that has carried them. Ross is a strike thrower this year and the cutter, which he doesn’t throw a lot (as yet) is an outstanding “out pitch.” It’s too soon to anoint him as an Ace or even a #3 or #4, but one has to be watching to see where he goes with this new pitch.
At the present juncture, the Dodgers Top Three Starting Pitchers are all Right Handed! Kershaw will likely be back next Thursday and Ryu is progressing.FLASH:This just in: Julio Urias threw off the mound for the first time since surgery a couple of days ago. He is at least 5 or 6 weeks away… most likely as a reliever.
Photocredit: The Sporting News