LOS ANGELES — Right-hander Ross Stripling has been whatever the Los Angeles Dodgers have needed him to be this season, yet his most drastic role reversal will come Saturday.
Stripling will be pressed into service as the Dodgers’ spot starter against the Milwaukee Brewers, taking the assignment after being used as the closer in his last outing. He will face off against the Milwaukee Brewers’ Zach Davies in the second game of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers won the series opener 3-1 on Friday.
Stripling does have two saves this season, but his first was a three-inning outing against the Chicago Cubs on May 27 when the Dodgers won 5-0. On Monday at Pittsburgh, Stripling came on to record the final three outs in typical closer fashion as the Dodgers won 6-5. Regular closer Kenley Jansen had been used earlier in the game.
Stripling (3-4, 3.41 ERA) will now follow his first traditional closer appearance with his first turn as a starter this year. He made 14 starts in 22 appearances during his rookie season last year.
“I’m just a man of many trades,” Stripling said. “It’s fun. I think that was the idea at the beginning of the year was to kind of have a swing man. I had that long role early and then the idea was that when we needed a spot start, I was going to be the guy to do it. We just have so much starter depth and guys have stayed healthy that we haven’t needed it until Aug. 26.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he hopes to get three, and possibly four innings out of Stripling in the outing. He will then turn it over to the bullpen. He is actually calling the game a “bullpen day,” for obvious reasons.
Stripling has not thrown more than 36 pitches in any of his 13 outings during July and August. He made back-to-back one-inning relief appearances against the Brewers in early June at Milwaukee and did not allow a run in either. He did not face Milwaukee last season.
Davies (14-7, 4.09) will have no pitch restrictions when he faces the Dodgers, or at least not any uncommon to the typical starter. Not only that, but the right-hander has been impressive over his last 11 starts, posting a 2.65 ERA.
If that is not enough reason to carry some confidence into Saturday’s start, Davies will take the mound knowing he was in complete control when facing Los Angeles on June 4 at Milwaukee. He held the Dodgers to just three hits and no runs over six innings in a Brewers 3-0 victory.
Yet Brewers manager Craig Counsell will take a cautious approach to Saturday’s game.
“I think when you start going back around to a team, it’s kind of more local knowledge for each side,” Counsell said. “And I think for each side, it’s a cat-and-mouse game of adjustments. I think they have some hitters who are pretty good at making some adjustments and Zach has the ability to make adjustments with his repertoire.”
In three career starts against the Dodgers, Davies is 1-1 with a 3.63 ERA. His seven earned runs allowed to Los Angeles came in his two starts against the club last season.