Being a swingman isn’t new to Blue Jays pitcher Ross Stripling.
When you pitch behind Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler earlier in your career, you have to look for ways to show how valuable you are to the team. Being flexible is one of the ways Ross Stripling has done that over his career.
Before being traded to the Blue Jays in 2020, Ross started 69 games for the Dodgers over five seasons and appeared in 143 games total in the Dodger Blue. The other 52% of his appearances came out of the bullpen. As you can see by the numbers, Ross has earned the title of swingman.
The Blue Jays were looking for a formidable back-end starter for their playoff push in 2020. Unfortunately, Stripling in his 15 innings of work didn’t provide that. His ERA was 6.32 and some of his struggles from that season carried into the 2021 campaign. In his first two starts of the 2021 season, the right-hander gave up seven runs, walked three and he struck out ten through 8.2 innings of work.
Stripling would work with Blue Jays Pitching Coach Pete Walker to refine his mechanics and his delivery, eventually working on keeping the ball in the glove a little longer to protect himself from tipping his pitches. His delivery was also more compact and he would work out of the stretch whether runners were on or the bases were empty.
The Blue Jays swingman Ross Stripling is playing a pivotal role for the club during the 2022 season.
The numbers improved for Stripling in May and June, as he continued to average just over a strikeout an inning and did what the back-end starter was supposed to do by keeping his team in the game as long as he can. Unfortunately, Ross would have a tough July and after making a couple of good starts in August, Strip would be supporting the club out of the pen in which he didn’t pitch well, putting up a 10.13 era in 8 innings giving up four home runs.
The Blue Jays addressed their rotation this past off-season. They locked up Jose Berrios, they brought in free-agent Kevin Gausman to replace Cy Young award winner Robbie Ray. They signed Yusei Kikuchi to replace Stephen Matz. Add those moves with the emergence of Alek Manoah, Stripling knew where he would start the 2022 season: in the bullpen.
The Blue Jays have had many very good swingmen. Woody Williams, Sam Gavilligio, and even Roy Halladay after he returned from the Minor Leagues early in his career. It takes a certain flexibility to always be ready to be put into any situation, especially in the game of baseball. Whether it’s covering an IL stint for Hyun Jin Ryu in the rotation or it’s being asked to close a game out because Jordan Romano was absolutely gassed, or trying to keep your team in the ball game after Kikuchi can’t get late into the game, Stripling has answered the bell with no questions asked.
Ross Stripling has thrown 7.2 shutout innings in the month of June. He continues to compliment his fastball usage with his changeup. Hitters are only hitting .160 off that pitch. He will now be tasked to build up his pitch count and try and eat as many innings as he can in Ryu’s absence.
Will the Blue Jays acquire another Starting Pitcher at the trade deadline so they can put Ross back in the swingman role? Only time will tell, until then let’s see what wizardry Ross can come up with while he covers another Ryu IL stint.