The Ross Stripling Thing Is Complex

Ross Stripling

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I started this post off without a title because I didn’t know what to call it, a defense of Dave Roberts seems too reactionary, a criticism of Dave Roberts has been… well documented. It’s hard to separate the fact that it’s still early April with the fact that losing games that way is excruciating, sooo I figured I’d talk about it also. Instinctively, when Dave Roberts took rookie Ross Stripling out after 100 thrown pitches and 4 issued walks I thought it was the right call, for a few reasons:

The Dodgers Can’t Really Afford Another Injury

Pitching depth is a staple around how this team has been dealt. At some point (I’d argue pretty soon) attrition can hit to the point where the replacements are no good, and the upside is non-existent. At least the 2015 Dodgers had upside through the roof, Zack Greinke pitching one of the best seasons in modern history as far as results go, and Clayton Kershaw pitching maybe the best we’ve seen him pitch. The upside created with these two pitchers last season were potentially the best the Dodgers have ever seen.

The options behind Ross Stripling are:

Carlos Frias

Zach Lee

Brandon Beachy

You could be excused if you look at those options and think ‘nah I can do without any of those pitchers eating innings’. There’s a reason Ross Stripling won the job coming out of Spring Training, and despite the general view about him not being all that good, he has the potential to surprise, his pitches and upside are better than Lee and Beachy, he has more stamina than Frias or Beachy, and in reality the Dodgers just need Stripling’s outings to not be a disaster, I can understand why the Dodgers felt the need to pull him coming off of Tommy John Surgery a few years ago and only making 14 starts in the minors since then. If the Dodgers lose another pitcher it can be argued that the team is far worse off than it was last season -if it isn’t already-.

Ross Stripling Looked GASSED

He admitted this later

But he was going into the game with… mediocre command at best, and Dustin Nosler showed what that meant for the later innings. So let’s take this at face value, let’s remember where the Dodgers were playing, and lets remember that every season one or two or five away games at the phone booth end in brutal heartbreak, maybe that’s Brandon League serving up a game ending dinger to Guillermo Quiroz or League giving up a single to Hector Sanchez to win it or maybe that’s Kenley Jansen‘s own struggles in AT&T in 2014, or last year. Something inexplicably dumb happens every year at the start of the season in that ballpark (Hanley Ramirez blowing out his thumb and hamstring months apart in the same stadium. Sometimes things are just inexplicable and given how the series opener went, was there any reason to believe that something dumb was not going to happen last night? I personally had zero faith in Stripling’s ability to

A) preserve the no hitter after walking Angel Pagan

B) preserve the slim lead that the Dodgers had after giving up the no hitter, and this was before Ross admitted it was the right call to take him out in the first place

Oh by the way add Trevor Brown to the list of Giant backup catchers to score demoralizing hits against the Dodgers in AT&T park. I don’t think I could stomach seeing a game there, ever.

However, this probably highlights a larger point

This is a way too early critique on the bullpen and the state of the pitchers who preserve the lead for the Dodgers, but it’s impossible to forget how bad things looked for the last few months of the season last year outside of Kenley Jansen, it took a DL visit to really fix Chris Hatcher‘s problems, Pedro Baez didn’t know how to pitch last season and uh his pitchability is still not there, Yimi Garcia has had significant issues after April of 2015, I have no idea what to make of Louis Coleman yet, Joe Blanton hasn’t really instilled confidence into us.

Trading for Aroldis Chapman is not the only way to build a good bullpen, on both sides of the equation, whether you’re upset that the deal didn’t go through, or whether you’re defending the construction of the bullpen by saying the Chapman trade made things significantly harder to build a better bullpen. There was ample opportunity to sign Darren O’Day in the offseason, trading for Andrew Miller, going after Jake McGee, maybe you go outside of the box and think of an AJ Ramos type player any of the numerous late inning options. The interest in Chapman lead me to believe that the team was not comfortable with it’s bullpen going into the season, and, sorry guys but Joe Blanton and Louis Coleman don’t move the needle, not for me at least.

There’s always the farm system and if things get bad enough I suspect a Jose De Leon or Julio Urias might be called up, but I’m not 100% sure that is a bandaid that fixes all of the issues.

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Adrian Garcia

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6 thoughts on “The Ross Stripling Thing Is Complex

  1. Taking out Stripling was the right decision. Maybe we should of started Hatcher in the 8th. I have no concerns with the decisions Roberts made. The pitchers did not execute. Period.

    CC now on the DL. Somethings do not change. This will give Thompson some more playing time.

  2. I can live with the result. I can take losing a game. New day, new ball game, what happened yesterday is in the past.
    What I don’t understand is why a manager refuses to bring in his “best relief pitcher” at that point? The tying run is at the plate, you are six outs away from winning, why on earth don’t you bring in your best pitcher at that moment. To me that is what the situation calls for. So I don’t understand the managers thinking at all.
    Oh well we got a ball game in a few hours. Hopefully no rain.

  3. The one thing that has bothered me this year and last year is plan of attack of our bull pen pitchers. They do not change speeds. Baez and Hatcher throw a fast ball. That’s it. They do nothing to keep a hitter off balance. That is called pitchability. If a major league hitter knows a fast ball is coming, they will hit it. I thought Hatcher got squeezed a little, but he never adjusted either. After the first low pitch was called a ball, he needed to raise it up about three inches. But no.

  4. I think most agree that removing Stripling was the right call. The bullpen needed 5 outs to preserve the win. 5 outs. And they failed.

    I was challenged rather sternly when I suggested the $20 million spent on Kendrick could have been used more wisely. But, that ship left the harbor and what it left on deck is what we see on the 25 man today. The question now is – how do we get the most out of who is left standing here? My question at this point is, why, after 6 months of analyzing detail, doesn’t Hatcher have a secondary off speed pitch he can throw at the knees? I find that indefensible. I could teach a coachable high school kid how to do it and I know from experience it would not take 6 months to get it done. These guys are professionals. Continued mistakes in the strike zone is inexcusable.

    Maybe coachable is the operative word here. Perhaps those 98 mph guys throw fast but learn slow. The Dodgers have two of the best control of spin pitchers ever to take the mound in the Majors – Orel Hershiser and Greg Maddox. If neither of those guys can get through to our hard ballers, maybe we should re-consider those bullpen jobs. It’s past time for those guys get their collective sh*t together.

  5. After reading that Stripling had never made 100 pitches in a game and that he has only passed 90 a few times, I’m inclined to go back to the idea that Ross should not have started the eighth. I do think Jansen should have been warming up behind whoever started the inning. Like Mr. Nosler, I’m getting tired of us losing the game while our best pitcher not named Kershaw sits on the bench.

    Most fans didn’t really expect to win these past two games, but both were winnable and in both the bullpen failed. Losing to the Giants hurts. They must have brought the turf from Candlestick, because the place is still haunted. I expect Roberts as a rookie manager would turn to his veteran pitching coach for advice on handling the bullpen, but I’m wondering whether that’s a good idea.

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