The year is 2014 and Ross Stripling is on his way back from yet another Tommy Johns surgery, the second of his career. This type of injury takes a good few months to get back from and of course Ross knows this all too well.
The young right hander, who has been trying since 2012 when he was drafted by LA in the 5th round to get to the big leagues, is now back in his minor league task, pitching for the Dodgers’ AA affiliate, the Tulsa Drillers. Ross’ first 6 outings consisted of 25 innings total, an average of just over 4 per game. This was backed up by the fact he never went past 76 pitches and not once did he reach 100 in the season, his most being 93. This brings us to the decision Dave Roberts made with Ross in Friday’s game.
The 26 year old finally has his shot in the big leagues and has a no hitter going through 7 and a third innings, it is a no brainer to leave him in right? He has a chance to throw a no hitter on his MLB debut, a feat not achieved since over 2 centuries ago, in 1893. Ross walks the first man in the 8th and his pitch count had reached 100, the first time he hit that mark since ever, his previous most had been 99 with the Chattanooga Lookouts, the then Dodgers’ AA affiliate.
During the time he spent with the Lookouts back in 2013, his last 5 outings all clocked over 80 pitches with 2 of them reaching the 90 mark. What followed would set his career back a whole year and then some, his Tommy Johns surgery and seemingly his shot at the big leagues was over. For Stripling he went 8-4 with a 2.82 ERA, numbers that should have warranted a call up for 2014 had he have been healthy. This one season, building into it from the beginning with his first 5 outings not reaching 80 pitches, was the one to put him back on track as a starter in the minors, trying to reach the bigs for his chance.
If Dave were to have asked the 26 year old if he wanted to risk his chance in the big leagues for this piece of history but to be injured again, with a whole another year waiting and rehabbing his body to get back to professional baseball standards, I’m sure Ross would have taken that opportunity to have his no hitter and try and run the risk of his already damaged body falling apart once again as he would have wanted this dream debut more than anyone. However Ross Stripling did have his dream debut and he pitched 7 and a third innings of no hit baseball.
Dave Roberts on the other hand needed to save his pitcher and that was the decision that won out in the end, he had seen how hard Ross would have worked to get to the stage he is at now and for LA in both the long and short term, not losing a pitcher to another Tommy Johns would have been best for both parties.
This is why, for Dave Roberts, this decision was based solely out of trying to keep his pitcher healthy as LA had finally found the man for their 5th spot after numerous injuries to both pitchers and position players, these injuries, fortunately for Ross, was the reasons he had his chance in the MLB after all. Now the new Dodger manager has found his 5th man to fill the rotation out and he can work on building him back up after his latest set back to go out next time and hopefully stay in for longer and be as dominant as his debut on Friday night in a wet and cold environment down at AT&T Park.