Pending how long Hyun Jin Ryu is absent, Ross Stripling has the opportunity to establish himself for the Blue Jays and take aim at a career year.
June has so far proved to be an excellent month for Ross Stripling, with the Blue Jays reaping the benefits. His recent form has also put him in position to have his best season yet in the Majors.
Stripling has so far made three appearances this month, including two starts after Hyun Jin Ryu was placed on the injured list. In 13.2 combined innings, he has allowed no runs or walks and just five hits, notched eight strikeouts and been credited with three wins.
In the interest of objectivity, it is important to note Stripling’s two starts have come against the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals. At the time of posting, they have two of the three worst records in the American League.
Of course, you can only beat whoever you’re facing. Regardless, the 32-year-old’s next start should be more telling, with him scheduled to face a New York Yankees ball club with the best record in the Majors.
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Stripling spoke to the media about his recent play, following Sunday’s 6-0 win over the Detroit Tigers. As reported by Sportsnet‘s Ben Nicholson-Smith, the pitcher said:
"“When things are going well, you come to the field and have another week like you just had. You keep that routine and that structure down. What I did last week put me in a good position to have success. Hopefully it does again, but I’m not, like, all of a sudden thinking I’m in the hunt for the Cy Young. You try and stay even-keeled.”"
As much as Stripling’s pitching may be considered a surprise by some, he has previously proven he can perform at a high level. More specifically in 2018, when he earned an All-Star appearance while playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Stripling went 8-6 in 33 games that season – including 21 starts – as he set career bests for ERA, innings pitched and FIP, as well as strikeouts and walks per nine innings. To date, this year is on course to be his strongest statistical one yet.
Understandably, this will in part be determined by how long Ryu is absent for. He met with Dr. Neal ElAttrache last Thursday in California, but is now seeking other opinions.
While this could be interpreted in any number of ways, Ryu likely won’t be returning anytime soon. As per Nicholson-Smith, Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said:
"“He’s a ways away. I’m not saying he’s done, just saying he’s a ways away. I’m not even thinking about that right now.”"
Regardless of how long Ryu is out, Stripling should remain in the rotation as long as he continues to be effective. If not, expect the Blue Jays to look elsewhere for a reliable starter prior to the Aug. 2 trade deadline.
The Blue Bell, Pennsylvania native certainly has a variety of pitches to help continue performing well, including an excellent sinking fastball. However, his lack of durability (and therefore consistency) has repeatedly been an issue during his seven-year Major League career.
For now though, Stripling is pitching with confidence and enjoying the chance to show what he can do in the rotation. As per Nicholson-Smith, he said:
"“If anything I’m probably more used to the rotation than the bullpen now. You rely on experience. I’ve started games before and I know what it takes to navigate through a lineup two, hopefully three times.”"
What is your expectation for the state of the rotation as this season progresses? More specifically, do you predict Ryu will return as a starter, will Stripling keep his position, or will the Blue Jays trade for another arm? Let us know in the comments section below.