Blue Jays: When does Ross Stripling return to the Rogers Centre?
One of the bittersweet joys of being a fan is welcoming former Jays back to Toronto and having an opportunity to show our appreciation for their time in a Blue Jays uniform.
Luckily, with the introduction of a more balanced schedule this season, fans will have an opportunity to welcome some old friends back to Rogers Centre sooner rather than later.
One player we'll get to see soon is pitcher Ross Stripling, who packed his bags and moved to the NL West this winter. But good news, he'll return to the Rogers Centre for three games from June 27-29 with his new team, the San Francisco Giants.
"Chicken Strip," as he's affectionately known, was easily the savior of the Blue Jays rotation last season after stepping in for the injured Hyun Jin Ryu. He made five abbreviated starts early in the season when Ryu went out with forearm inflammation, an ominous foreshadowing of things to come.
When Ryu went down for good with Tommy John surgery at the beginning of June, Stripling came out of the bullpen again and added some much-needed stability to the back end of the rotation. With the well-documented struggles of José Berríos and Yusei Kikuchi, the swingman became the team's surprise third starter by the end of the season.
Over his remaining 19 starts, the right-hander pitched to a 9-3 record with a 2.64 ERA and a sparkling 0.94 WHIP. Even though he didn't post big strikeout numbers with a 7.21 K/9, he had an aversion to giving up free passes and kept a stingy BB/9 rate of 1.06.
While many fans would have loved to see Stripling re-sign with the club, you can't blame him for looking for a better opportunity elsewhere with a guaranteed starting role. The 33-year-old signed a two-year, $25M deal with the Giants and is being given a starter's job right out of the gate.
He currently projects to be his new team's fourth starter, and while it's too early to say if the schedule lines up for Stripling to toe the rubber against his former teammates in June, you can be sure he will receive a warm welcome when he makes his return to the Rogers Centre.