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In a challenging swing role, Stripling could be what the Blue Jays need

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A week-and-a-half into the new season, his versatility has become apparent, with two bench appearances and a starting spot ahead of his imminent move to the rotation to fill the injured Ryu.
#Embracingchallenging #swingrole #Stripling #readyBlue
TORONTO — The vast pitching depth of the Los Angeles Dodgers meant that, in the spring of 2016, Ross Stripling arrived at camp worried about securing a spot at triple-A Oklahoma City and avoiding a return to double-A Tulsa. Instead, when a number of injuries opened a pathway to the No. 5 spot in the big-league rotation, the then 26-year-old seized the opportunity and he impressed immediately, with 7.1 no-hit innings at the San Francisco Giants in his debut.

Six weeks later, Stripling was demoted to limit his workload after Tommy John surgery and returned only in late July, bouncing between roles, with six of his final 13 outings starts. The next year, when Dodgers starters — including Hyun Jin Ryu — returned to health, all but two of his 49 games came out of the bullpen. In 2018, he began as a reliever, reeled off a 13-start stretch that earned him an all-star selection, later returned to the bullpen, worked through a couple of injuries and was eventually left off the Dodgers’ post-season roster.

It’s in those days that the Toronto Blue Jays right-hander learned to both accept and manage the challenging and hugely important swingman role. A week and a half into the new season, the value of his versatility is already on display, with two relief outings and one spot start preceding his upcoming move into the rotation to cover for an injured Ryu.

Stripling is slated to start Friday at the Houston Astros, the latest twist in his be-ready-for-anything-anytime baseball life.

“I embrace it,” Stripling says. “My wife will say things like, ‘You deserve to be a starter,’ and I don’t disagree with that. I think have the arsenal to be a big-league starter, but I have embraced this role. I know it’s very valuable. I know that there’s also a very good chance that I have a year like last year where I make 19 starts because of injuries or because I throw well and I just take over that job. So I don’t view it as a demotion or a promotion one way or the other.

“I view it as there’s going to be 100 to 150 innings that need to be filled and I’m the perfect guy for that job. I’ve never thrown 150 innings in the big-leagues and stayed healthy so you could argue that my niche is the 100-125-inning role. I just take a lot of pride in being that guy and doing it with a smile on my face and keeping us in ballgames all the time. That’s my job.”

Not everyone would do it with such a sunny disposition.

Mentally, the mix of personal ambition, insecurity and prioritizing team-over


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