Joe Ross is the forgotten member of the Washington Nationals starting rotation.
Ross hasn’t been overwhelmingly dominant this season, but even during bad outings, he’s pitched well enough to keep them in games and that kind of heart and dedication to the team can’t be quantified in this new world of analytics.
On Sunday, Ross was able to take advantage of an offensive barrage by Nationals standards early to win the matinee’ 5-0 in the District and capture a split of their four-game set against the National League West, division-leading San Francisco Giants.
D.C.’s all but forgotten MLbbro put the Bay Area bats on ice by shutting out the Giants on five hits while striking out nine before Davey Martinez pulled him going into the bottom of the ninth inning.
Ross also became the first pitcher to throw more than seven innings against the Giants this season. For his career, Ross is now 13-0 in 14 starts when he pitches at least seven innings.
“I felt pretty good commanding the ball,” Ross said. “I’m just glad I gave the bullpen a little more rest today.”
Ross was just what the doctor ordered for the Nats who split a seven inning doubleheader and put a strain on its bullpen Saturday. His 3-6 mark doesn’t adequately describe his season to this point. Ross entered with a 4.12 ERA. However, after Sunday’s performance, he has struck out 70 batters in 70.1 IP and has a WHIP of 1.25.
Washington was staked to a 5-0 lead with help from early fireworks which allowed Ross to attack the Giants aggressively throughout the afternoon.
Fellow MLBbro Josh Harrison helped Ross out with a lethal 4-for-4 day. Ross also helped himself at the plate with three sacrifice bunts.
Ross grew up in Berkeley, CA and played his high school baseball at Bishop O’Dowd in Oakland. His friends, family, and homies had to wake up early to enjoy the locally televised performance that started around 10am PT.
Those who woke up early to make the waffles and expresso will remember Sunday’s brunch with morning Joe Ross as a good spot.
Two years removed from the Black Knight moment that legitimized baseball in the Nation’s Capital, the Washington Nationals are waiting for a few Howie Kendrick moments by Josh Bell and Josh Harrison to propel them out of the cellar in the National League East Division
Manager Davey Martinez said the entire team “has been taking too many good pitches” which is leading to an overall slump in the District. Washington is a team that looks caught up in analytics at the plate, swinging late on pitches they should be driving.
Their offensive struggles continued in a 5-1 loss to division-rival Atlanta Braves on Friday.
Washington ranks 5th in MLB in batting average, but just 25th in homers (53) and 27th in RBI (198). These numbers reflect the squad’s inability to get key hits and drive in runs.
The MLBbros on the left side of the infield shoulder some of the blame as the Nationals continue through this tough June schedule, where they are facing division rivals Atlanta and Philadelphia.
After a hot streak, The Josh Boys have contributed to the team’s inability to score runs and simply get on base.
The Nationals have been waiting for Harrison to take charge at second base, but his inconsistency at the plate has kept the platoon in order. Despite batting .270 with four home runs and 18 RBI for the season, Washington’s incumbent starter is slumping badly with four hits in his last 32 at-bats.
He was blazing in early May and fizzled out with his team as June came around.
Bell has been showing flashes of his All-Star brilliance from his days in Pittsburgh but is yet to string together consistent stretches of productivity. After his return from the COVID list in April where he batted .113, he rebounded to hit .289 in May.
But as the calendar changed to June, Bell’s struggles returned. He’s batting .125 (2-for-16) and managed just one hit in five at-bats in Atlanta as they broke even with the Braves in that recently concluded four-game series where they split despite having chances to win games behind stellar pitching from Patrick Corbin, Joe Ross, and Jon Lester.
The Nationals offense is wasting quality starts from the pitching staff and now must dig themselves out of a cellar-dwelling hole that may be too deep to climb out of and get back into playoffs.
After opting out of the 2020 season, Ross and the Washington Nationals were hoping the young hurler could become a complement to Max Scherzer.
Instead, Ross has remained consistently inconsistent.
He had his second consecutive abbreviated outing Wednesday afternoon, going only 3.2 innings and giving up four runs (two earned) in a 5-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
This came after the Nats spotted him two runs in the top of the first. After allowing one Cubbie to cross in the second inning, Ross gave up a two-run shot to Ian Happ in the third on a 2-2 pitch that didn’t have much movement.
It was the shortest outing of the season for the 28-year-old Ross, now in his sixth season in the majors.
“Every mistake he made today, they capitalized on,” Nationals manager Davey Martinez said. “He got the ball up a couple times, and they were able to put the bat on the ball in big situations. And then he gets himself in a hole. He’s got to keep the ball down in the strike zone.”
Over eight starts in 2021, he’s only made it to the sixth inning twice.
You could look at his 2-4 record and 5.72 earned run average and come away with the impression that Ross doesn’t have the talent to perform at this level.
But dig deeper.
In five of his starts, he’s given up two runs or less. And in those games, Ross has a 1.66 ERA.
On April 19th against the St. Louis Cardinals, he gave up five home runs in five innings. Of the 27 runs that have crossed the plate against him, 16 of them came courtesy of the long ball. That accounts for an incredible 60 percent of his total.
In a season where runs have been at a premium, with historic lows in team batting averages and historic highs in strikeouts, serving up dingers like they were smothered hash brown at Waffle House is not something any team can survive.
But Joe Ross is far from the only pitcher on the Washington staff having problems keeping the ball on the right side of the fence. In fact, he doesn’t even lead the team in home runs surrendered, but he is in danger of losing his spot in the rotation.
The competition between Ross, Corbin (2-3, 6.10), and Erick Fedde (3-4, 4.35) hasn’t produced a clear winner.
Ross will get at least one more start to prove himself with Fedde currently out due to COVID-19 protocols.
Time for Joe Ross to seize the opportunity. If not, he may find himself term-limited in Washington.
Without even making a dent in the schedule, MLB has rebounded strongly from the challenges of last year’s COVID season. After already seeing two no-hitters, a bench-clearing brawl, and what feels like daily game-winning hits from new and established MLB talent — these first two weeks only make fans crave for more.
As far as MLB Bros go, there are 69 Black and Brown (125 including Alternate Site) players in a league of 906 players. Believe us when we tell you, that 7.6 percent is making a tremendous impact on the league.
This week’s #HighFive features a new player at the top:
1. Byron Buxton
Buxton makes the jump to the top of the list after continuing his solid start to the season. He has a .469 Batting average with 5 Home Runs and 9 RBI’s while having a hit in all 9 games he has played in.
The work he put in during the offseason is paying off as he gained around 15 pounds of muscle and changed his approach to more of a power swing. Defensively he has always been one of the best in the game and it’s good to see him putting it together on both sides. Health has been the major factor in Buxton reaching his full potential and it’s worth noting he has missed the last few games, including Jackie Robinson Day, with hamstring tightness.
2. Akil Baddoo
Real Deal Akil “BADDOO, BADDOO, BADDOO” was walked down by Buxton and fell from the top spot he owned last week. However, it’s no knock on the impact he has had on the Tigers.
The rising rookie is hitting .370 with four home runs, including a two-run shot to left against the Astros in Houston. Baddoo has been a spark plug for a surprising Tiger’s team, currently tied for first in a wide-open American League Central.
3. Cedric Mullins (Baltimore Orioles)
Cedric Mullins has been one of the hottest hitters on the planet as he has a 15-game hitting streak dating back to last season. Entering Thursday’s games, Mullins was 5th in the league in batting average and 2nd in hits with 19.
Mullins has become more of a complete player. Last year he was known for his bunting and defense in centerfield. His ability to be a table-setter at the top of the Oriole lineup will be key in helping this Baltimore team gel fast.
4. Marcus Stroman/ Taijuan Walker
New York’s Black & Brown aces share cleanup in this week’s #High5. Both have come into the season on fire as they have gotten back-to-back wins twice already, the most recent coming in a doubleheader sweep of the Phillies on Tuesday.
The melanated mound marauders have combined to pitch 22.1 innings posting a 1.61 ERA with a 2-0 record. Both hurlers have been key in the Mets’ starting rotation having the 5th-best soft contact rate in the majors.
5. Joe Ross
Joe Ross is the only new member of this week’s High 5 as he mowed down two of the best lineups in baseball. He has not given up a run in 11 innings of work on the mound. He has a 1-0 record and 9 strikeouts as he allowed only 6 hits combined to the Dodgers and Cardinals.
Ross and the Nationals had a bumpy start to the season as it began with a COVID outbreak throughout their locker room. With the team in chaos early in the season, Ross’ dominance has been a stabilizing force on the field and in the locker room.
It was a glimpse, albeit a brief one, into just how dangerous the Washington Nationals offense could be when their projected lineup is firing on all cylinders.
Josh Bell & Josh Harrison
Nats fans finally saw the potential impact that Black Knights Josh Bell and Josh Harrison will have once they’ve fully recovered and gotten their game legs under them after a delayed start to the season due to possible COVID-19 exposure. Seeing these guys reunited in Washington after wasting away in Baseball’s Saigon (Pittsburgh) is dope. Now they play for a true contender in a popping town.
The District is ready for a real defense of the least celebrated world championship of this century. Washington was never a real contender during the 60 game sprint in 2020.
This #MLBro can play multiple positions on the field and gets it done with the bat as well. Tonight Josh Harrison gets his first HR of the season on Jackie Robinson Day #MLBBroshttps://t.co/xui1hC81TI
However, the Black D.C. kings could be the key to upsetting the projections of most experts who expect them to finish behind the NY Mets, Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies as the season heats up.
When Dave Martinez tweaked his lineup to give Bell the day off on travel day in St. Louis, Harrison exploded with a 2-for-3 afternoon and 2 RBI as the Nationals responded from a dismal bloodletting the night before with a 6-0 win.
Joe Ross was finally the beneficiary of run support putting the Cardinals on sleep mode to earn his first victory of the season.. Ross struck out five in six scoreless innings and walked only one batter.
In both starts, the young righty has shown flashes of dominance that give cause for more optimism than usual for the backend of their rotation.
On paper, the Baltimore Orioles don’t seem to have much to play for once again in 2021. However, as the massive organizational rebuild continues there is a star on the rise.
Cedric Mullins is riding a 15 game hit streak after a late single that was a part of a Bird rally in an Orioles 7-6 victory. The win ended a four-game losing streak and helped them earn their first home win of the season against the Seattle Mariners. His streak dates back to the end of last season which gives the franchise hope that he could be their leadoff man of the future starting now.
During Tuesday’s doubleheader, Mullins finished a combined 2-for-6 with a walk in each game. His fourth-inning RBI double kept the streak alive and was a big blow for the team trying to (at least temporarily) stay out of the AL East cellar.
After Wednesday night’s postponement Mullins has 19 hits through the first 11 games and is batting .442. As far as Black representation goes, the DMV has All-Star bound Black Knights on deck.