Stripling eyeing opening in Dodgers' rotation

July 6th, 2020

LOS ANGELES -- Closer and outfielder are among an undisclosed number of Dodgers that have not reported to Summer Camp, but manager Dave Roberts said he was hopeful of seeing both soon.

Roberts said he was “not at liberty” to disclose why the 32-year-old Jansen and the 32-year-old Pollock had not reported to Dodger Stadium, where official workouts began Friday but unofficial workouts had been held for several weeks.

“I have talked to Kenley a couple of times in the last week and I’m hopeful of seeing him soon,” said Roberts. “We haven’t seen A.J. here yet, but the plan is to get him to camp soon as well.”

The only Dodger to elect not to play the 2020 season because of health concerns is 34-year-old David Price, who announced that on Saturday.

On Sunday, Roberts said , and are three candidates to move into the rotation as Price’s replacement. Stripling said he is stretched up to four innings and should be up to six when the season opens.

“I think that’s a pretty good start,” Roberts said of the three options. “What Ross has done in a lot of different roles, what the other two guys did last year, there’s a lot to like. I wouldn’t bet against any of those guys. We’ll just continue to build these guys up. There’s just no reason to name a starter right now that takes the place of Dave.”

May and Gonsolin made impressive Major League debuts last season, while Stripling is a former All-Star whose versatility has resulted in the blessing of a Major League career and the curse of never fulfilling his goal of a full-time rotation spot.

Even with Price’s acquisition in February, Stripling was optimistic he could win a spot in the rotation created by the offseason departures of starters Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda. But before the pause, Roberts named Julio Urías and Alex Wood to the fourth and fifth spots.

“I was disappointed at the time because I wanted the opportunity to win a starting spot and was told I had that opportunity and Urías was announced before we played a game in spring and Woody was announced a few days later, and I felt I didn’t really get a fair shake to win that spot,” Stripling said.

“And I was disappointed I found out through the media and nobody told me in person. I went up to Doc and Andrew Friedman and they told me they should have told me first, which is fine. No issues with that. But I’ve been in this position since I started as a Dodger. I get built up and we’ll see where we’re at.”

This is standard operating procedure for Stripling, who has never entered a Spring Training in the rotation, yet made 52 Major League starts, including 15 last year, as many as Wood and Urías combined.

“As a guy that’s done this for five years, I like this role,” he said. "It’s a niche role where I can go both ways, get you an out in the eighth or go four innings. I’m totally fine with that. It’s unique and I enjoy being good at it. All three of us are going to be used early. Obviously, you want the nod as a starter, but we all need to understand we’ll all be a big part of what we’re going to do.”

Coming into the season, Stripling was ultimate insurance with Price coming off wrist surgery, Urías having averaged only 71 innings over seven professional seasons and Wood limited to 35 2/3 innings last year by a back injury.

After surviving an aborted trade to the Angels in the original scuttled Mookie Betts deal, Stripling unveiled a new change-up with improved deception in Spring Training.