Former Blue Jays pitcher Ross Stripling off to rough start in San Francisco
By Edward Eng
During the 2022-2023 offseason, the Toronto Blue Jays expressed interest in re-signing Ross Stripling if both the price and term was right. After all, Stripling had just put up his best numbers of his career with a 3.01 ERA and 1.01 WHIP, with a career best 10 wins and 134.1 innings pitched. By the end of the 2022 season, Stripling had steadily moved up to the No. 3 position on the Jays’ starting rotation, and played a key role in filling in the rotation admirably when Hyun Jin Ryu had season-ending elbow surgery and José Berríos struggled with inconsistency.
Stripling drew lots of interest in free agency, with up to ten teams interested in his services, but in the end, it was down to between the Blue Jays and the San Francisco Giants. He decided to go with the Giants because they were willing to include an opt-out option after the first season as part of the contract, whereas the Jays wouldn’t. As a result, the Jays ended up signing Chris Bassitt instead to a three-year, $63M deal.
After signing a two-year, $25Mcontract with the opt-out clause with the Giants, Stripling now had the prime opportunity to become a main cog in their rotation, along with Logan Webb, Alex Wood, and Alex Cobb, as Carlos Rodón had left for the New York Yankees. As much as Stripling could excel as a swingman between starting and the bullpen, he did express recently his desire to be primarily a starter, as reported by Shi Davidi of Sportsnet:
"I do think my arsenal fits best as a starter,” says Stripling. “But you've got to continue to pitch almost with the weight of the world on your shoulders of saying, ‘No, this is my job and I'm not going to lose it.’ That's how I've survived when I've gotten into the rotation, pitching with that mentality."
Now just a little over two weeks into the 2023 MLB season, Stripling has been off to a rough start with the Giants, losing his starting rotation spot after one bad start to the season, and then continuing his struggles with two poor outings in relief. Overall, he has pitched in three games, and had been hit hard, giving up 10 earned runs, including six home runs, leading to an ERA of 9.00 and a WHIP of 1.60 over 10 innings pitched. In recent games, it appeared as though the Giants had even lost a little trust in Stripling too, as they weren’t willing to put him into any close games, leaving him potentially with just a long man or mop-up duty role.
To make matters worse, the Giants just announced that they plan to primarily use Stripling in relief for the near future, as fellow free agent signee Sean Manaea had overtaken his spot. So for all that Stripling had worked for, hoping to remain as a full-time big league starter, may be fading away back to his swingman specialty just a couple of weeks into the season. One thing that he may have working for him is that his main competitor in Manaea also had some struggles coming out of the gate as well, before producing a recent good start. So if Stripling can put together a few good outings in relief, and Manaea’s struggles continue, "Strip" may once again get his chance to prove that he belongs in the starting rotation.
For what he had done for the Blue Jays in the past season, as well as all the hard work he had put in his career, let’s hope that will happen for him sooner than later.