Washington Nationals ace Joe Ross has been officially placed on the 10-day IL after an MRI revealed a partial tear in his left arm and is expected to be lost for the rest of this season.
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.
Joe Ross reppin' the 2⃣0⃣2⃣
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 13, 2021
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.
Second Base Slump
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.
Josh Harrison – Washington Nationals (3) pic.twitter.com/l36gXzruJs
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) May 8, 2021
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.
The struggle is real for Joe Ross.
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.
Don’t let Ian Happ get hot
— Cubs On Tap (@CubbiesOnTap) May 20, 2021
A walk and a pair of hits, including a Joc Pederson RBI single in the fourth, ultimately chased Ross from the bump.
Joc Pederson lines an RBI single to center field, scoring Nick Martini to increase the Cubs lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the 4th inning pic.twitter.com/8YrHeDhtwq
— Cubs Highlights (@Cubs_Highlights) May 20, 2021
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.
However, in his other three starts, he’s allowed 22 runs in just 12 innings pitched (16.50 ERA).
Walks haven’t been a major issue, with Ross handing out only 18 free passes. The long ball has been the problem. How big a problem?
In every start that he’s given up a run, he’s given up a home run. Every. Single. Start. When he keeps the ball in the park he’s money in the bank.
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) April 14, 2021
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.