first_imgTheir offense can muster a come-from-behind rally. Their middle relievers are capable of holding a lead, and closer Kenley Jansen can still pitch just as efficiently on the second night of back-to-back appearances.But the night left at least one question unanswered, with no real sample size on which to rest an educated guess: Who is Ross Stripling as a major league pitcher?“That’s a good question,” he said. “I think I can be multiple things.”For now, two times through the rotation, Stripling is one of three Dodger starters who has allowed two or fewer runs. (Clayton Kershaw and Kenta Maeda are the others.)While Kershaw and Maeda have had time to established themselves somewhere — Kershaw here, Maeda in Japan – Stripling has not. A year ago, he was still rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. When he returned with Double-A Tulsa last June, he barely had time to formulate a pregame routine, let alone a scouting report for opponents to draw on. Ross Stripling is mortal after all. After pitching into the eighth inning without allowing a hit in his major league debut, Stripling began his second start for the Dodgers by surrendering a single to the first batter he faced.By the seventh inning of Thursday night’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the rookie had run out of pitches again. This time the Dodgers had a five-run rally up their sleeve, and they were able to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 5-2 win before the announced crowd of 40,879.In the process the Dodgers answered several of the questions lingering from their tepid start. In the hours before his historic debut in San Francisco, Stripling was antsy, listening to the clubhouse clock tick while waiting for the game to begin. Thursday, he was calm and focused.“As far as just broad, who I am, I’m a guy who throws strikes and competes,” he said. “I’m never going to just fool around and throw random stuff in there. Every pitch I throw is going to have conviction behind it and have a purpose. That’s just kind of who I am.”Stripling is 26, older than a typical rookie, which goes a long way toward explaining the poise that’s impressed his teammates. His major league debut was delayed by the grind of a 14-month Tommy John rehab the last two years, then accelerated this spring by preseason injuries to Brett Anderson, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Mike Bolsinger.Even after he allowed five hits and two runs in six innings in a no-decision Thursday, it’s safe to say that Stripling has exceeded whatever expectations were lingering in his new ulnar collateral ligament.A.J. Ellis, who has caught both of Stripling’s starts, said he realized in spring training that the rookie had four above-average major league pitches: A fastball, slider, curveball and changeup.“I think this is what a lot of people envisioned him being before his Tommy John surgery,” Ellis said. “He mixes speeds well, lives in a lot of different velocities, really disrupts a hitter’s timing. He’s got a lot of weapons. He can figure out a lot of different ways to get a hitter out.”That approach, said veteran reliever J.P. Howell, can have a ripple effect on the pitchers who come behind him.“The way (Stripling) moves the ball in and out, it helps the bullpen because then we can just stick to our strengths,” Howell said. “We don’t have to do certain things to set hitters up. We can just attack them.”Howell, who had not retired any of the six batters he faced prior to Thursday’s game, pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning. When the Dodgers rallied for five runs against starter Robbie Ray, Randall Delgado and Andrew Chafin in the bottom of the inning, Howell became the winning pitcher of record.Yimi Garcia pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Jansen pitched a scoreless ninth.Arizona was leading 2-1 when Kiké Hernandez hit a two-run double against Delgado, which proved to be the game-winning hit. Chafin replaced Delgado and allowed back-to-back RBI singles by Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig that gave the Dodgers a 5-2 lead – their largest at any point in the series.Puig finished 2 for 4 and is hitting .405 through the season’s first 10 games. Hernandez went 2 for 3 and is batting an even .400.The Dodgers host the San Francisco Giants for three games beginning Friday.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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