Dodgers’ surprise ace makes All-Star case in win over Giants
The Dodgers are a full-fledged media company, with their own television and radio stations and enthusiastic participation on social media outlets. They satisfy the need for constant content in a variety of ways, including something called “The Doc and Joe Show.”
It is not a variety show, although Dodgers broadcaster Joe Davis elsewhere has shared videos in which he offers barbecue tips or engages in carpool karaoke. In this show, Davis puts fan questions to Dodgers manager Dave “Doc” Roberts.
In the portion of “The Doc and Joe Show” shown on the Dodger Stadium video board Friday, Roberts handled a question about whom he might pick as the National League starting pitcher for next month’s All-Star game in Washington.
“The host team has a guy that is pretty good,” Roberts said.
That would be the Nationals’ Max Scherzer, who could win his third consecutive NL Cy Young award. Four starts ago, after Ross Stripling had lowered his earned-run average below that of Scherzer, the Dodgers’ pitcher frankly assessed the odds of finishing the season that way.
“Probably not super great,” Stripling said.
That was three weeks ago, and let’s check the latest leader board. After Stripling carried a shutout into the seventh inning of Friday’s 3-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants, his earned-run average stands at 1.76.
Scherzer’s ERA: 2.00.
The Dodgers won for the fourth consecutive game, improving their record this month to 10-2. They are 21/2 games out of first place in the NL West; the Giants are one game out of last place.
“You never know if you’ll have another chance in a six-, eight-, 10-year career to make an All-Star game,” Stripling said. “I want to go out there and do my best to try and get there, because it would be pretty cool.”
On the one hand, Stripling has All-Star numbers. He has won six consecutive starts in the last month, with two walks and 47 strikeouts in that span. On the other hand, players around the league might not recognize his name on the player ballot, since he started the season as a long reliever.
“A lot of guys say that Mike Trout doesn’t get the recognition because he plays on the West Coast,” Stripling said. “Maybe there could be a little bit of that. And then just kind of being like an unknown guy, having a random good year.
“It’s cool. I opened that thing up and I saw my name on it. That’s pretty neat.”
Stripling (6-1) leads the Dodgers in victories, a critical paddle in keeping the team afloat amid a wave of pitching injuries. The Dodgers are 6-3 in his starts and 6-3 in games started by rookie Walker Buehler. They are under .500 in games started by Clayton Kershaw (2-6), Rich Hill (2-4), Kenta Maeda (5-6) and Alex Wood (6-7).
Stripling gave up a double on his second pitch, retired the next 12 batters, gave up a single, then retired the next six batters. That got him through the sixth inning.
Josh Fields, Scott Alexander and Kenley Jansen finished off the Giants. Jansen, who has not blown a save in two months, worked the ninth for his 16th save.
The Dodgers struck with the long ball. Enrique Hernandez hit a solo home run in the first inning, and Matt Kemp did it in the fourth.
They scored another run in the fourth inning, when Yasiel Puig doubled home Yasmani Grandal. That gave Stripling and the Dodgers what turned out to be the winning run, and another plank in his All-Star game campaign.
“He needs to be in there,” Kemp said. “That boy is pitching his butt off. It’s fun to watch.”
Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin