These are the worst kind of posts to write. Dodger pitching prospect Ross Stripling will be undergoing Tommy John Surgery on Wednesday in Los Angeles with Dr. Neal ElAttrache performing the operation on his torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Stripling’s once foreseeable Dodger debut has been put on hold. Stripling stayed positive and personally Tweeted out the news on Tuesday afternoon:
Tommy John surgery scheduled for tomorrow morning. Thank you everyone for your thoughts and prayers. Everything happens for a reason!
This is a very unfortunate turn of events, and we wish Ross the best of luck in his recovery and return to the mound. Our Senior Staff Writer Kenny Shulsen spoke with Ross Stripling at Camelback Ranch this Spring, and the young pitcher was very gracious and personable during the interview.
It wouldn’t be too long after Kenny’s interview with Ross when the 24-year old right-hander disclosed to the training staff that he felt
discomfort in his elbow. It has been speculated that Stripling had been feeling something in his elbow (since February 21st when he pitched live batting practice) but continued to pitch through it during Spring Training. Even if he did, I’m not a doctor and cannot say whether he tore his elbow after pitching through the pain or if it was already needing surgical repair after he initially felt the issue. Whatever the case, it is a shame that Stripling won’t be able to make his Major League debut in 2014.
“Five or six days ago he had some stuff going on and didn’t let anybody know. In the game the other day he felt it again,” said manager Don Mattingly on Friday. “We need to find out what’s going on.”
Last Wednesday Ross pitched against the Arizona D-backs and faced ten batters. He allowed a run on five hits and a strikeout in his last outing before succumbing to surgery.
In Chattanooga last season, Stripling went 6-4 with a 2.78 ERA, 83 strikeouts, and just 19 walks over 94 innings pitched and 21 games (16 games started). He combined for 127 2/3 innings of work between his brief time in Single-A Rancho Cucamonga and AA last year. The Dodgers drafted Stripling in the 5th round of the 2012 draft out of Texas A&M University. Ross was ranked at number 5 in Lasorda Lair’s Top Ten Prospects for 2014.
Stripling, a non-roster invite this Spring, was in the mix to battle for the fifth spot in the Dodgers rotation along with Zach Lee. Stripling will have to now almost certainly re-invent himself after coming back from Tommy John Surgery which means he may be transitioned to a relief role instead of a starting pitching position.
I was lucky enough to watch Ross Stripling have a special moment on the field of Dodger Stadium during the Winter Development Program held this past January as he took in the beauty of Dodger Stadium while sitting in the dugout. No doubt he was visualizing himself pitching on the Dodger Stadium mound. I thought that Stripling was on that upward trajectory toward eventually reaching the big league level, and this season was perhaps his year to debut. Now the earliest we will see Stripling pitch again is sometime in 2015.
Friendly and talented, Ross Stripling will have no problem finding his way back to the mound in my opinion. The good news is that he is having the procedure right away so he can quickly begin the healing and rehab process. Stripling will have no shortage of Tommy John club members to talk to during the process. Chad Billingsley is in the last stages of his rehab with stellar results so far, and players like Brian Wilson have had successful returns to the mound after not one but two Tommy John surgeries.
Losing a pitcher to a torn elbow ligament is always unfortunate, but losing such a promising prospect who is so affable with us personally makes it a little bit more melancholy.
Good luck, Ross!