Stripling provides scoreless relief in return to Dodgers

July 23rd, 2016

ST. LOUIS -- The Dodgers optioned left-handed reliever to Triple-A Oklahoma City and recalled right-hander on Saturday. Then they threw their former starter into the fire in relief during a 7-2 win over the Cardinals.

Stripling pitched the eighth and ninth innings without giving up a hit and striking out two to preserve the Dodgers' five-run lead. He has now pitched five innings of scoreless relief over his last two outings.

"When you've already got them on their heels, you don't want to give them anything, no free passes," Stripling said. "You want to attack, get ahead and keep the pressure on them, especially with a five-run lead. So luckily I was able to do that. It's always good when you can go out there and execute it."

Stripling had Tommy John surgery in 2014 and began this season in the Dodgers' rotation, but he was sent down May 23 so the organization could limit his innings without putting a burden on the big league bullpen. He pitched 45 2/3 innings in eight starts for Los Angeles with a 4.53 ERA before going down.

Stripling's last relief appearance came over two innings in the Dodgers' 17-inning win over San Diego. He was rushed out to warm up in the 14th inning that night, but enjoyed the more leisurely pace on Saturday.

"I went out there in the bottom of the first and the other bullpen guys kind of trickled in as the game went on," Stripling said. "I'm just kind of asking them, 'When do you start warming up? When do you start stretching?' I just kind of picked and chose what I liked from their routine and just started developing my own. That will continue to develop as I keep coming out of the 'pen."

He had a 3.78 ERA over 16 2/3 innings for OKC, making four starts and five appearances. His outings came in shorter bursts to build up his stamina. Stripling had experienced some lower body fatigue early in the season and didn't make it past the sixth inning in any of his last seven starts with the Dodgers.

"It was one of those things where we, as an organization, needed him to gain some strength," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "He can give us the length that we need."

The Dodgers plan to keep him in the bullpen for now, and his outing Saturday allowed him to regain some confidence at the Major League level. 

"The thing we worked on [in the Minors] was being efficient, and that was something I was able to do tonight," Stripling said. "Whatever my role is, we'll keep doing it, working on it, and continue on that path of getting it right."