Stripling named Dodgers' fifth starter

LA's No. 16 prospect wins spot over fellow right-handers Frias, Lee

Stripling named Dodgers' fifth starter

LOS ANGELES -- Dave Roberts got to deliver his first piece of positive roster news as Dodgers manager Friday, when the club named Ross Stripling as the No. 5 starter.

The announcement was a welcome surprise for Stripling, a rookie who has never pitched above Double-A.

"It's already every bit as exciting as I could have dreamed it would be, and it's only going to get better," said Stripling, who flew from Phoenix to Los Angeles Friday morning to learn the news. "I'm excited to see what's going to come."

Stripling is lined up to make his Major League debut April 8 on the road against the Giants.

"First outing at San Francisco, throw you right in the fire," Stripling said. "That will be fun. That's one of the biggest rivalries in baseball."

Stripling, 26, was chosen over fellow right-handers Carlos Frias and Zach Lee, both of whom started games for the Dodgers in 2015. Stripling, on the other hand, missed most of the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He returned to make 13 starts for Double-A Tulsa in 2015, going 3-6 with a 3.88 ERA.

The Dodgers did not view Stripling as a legitimate candidate to crack the Opening Day rotation when Spring Training started in February, Roberts admitted.

"He was not on the list," Roberts said, "and I think if you looked at when we started camp, he was a guy that we probably projected for next year, to be quite honest, and maybe, if anything, to just kind of get him a look in September."

But mounting injuries to starting pitchers opened the door, and Stripling's performance in the Cactus League was enough to earn a job.

"I didn't honestly think I had much of a chance," Stripling said. "My goal was just to prove I could pitch."

It's unclear how long Stripling will remain in the Dodgers' rotation. He said he has not been promised anything past next week's start. Roberts said Stripling will be on an innings limit this year, his first full season following Tommy John surgery, and the pitcher estimated the limit would be between 125-150 innings.

Drafted by the Dodgers in the fifth round in 2012, Stripling rose fairly quickly through the farm system before arm injuries stalled his career two years ago. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound righty's four-pitch arsenal includes a plus curveball and a developing slider and changeup. The Dodgers' No.16 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, pitched to a 4.09 ERA in four appearances this spring.

"I'm happy and I think it's good for Ross to kind of have it settle in," Roberts said. "It's a whirlwind for anyone that makes their first Opening Day [roster]."

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.