2015 Washington Nationals Player Review: Joe Ross

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Rookies that start the season with their major league ballclub often have high expectations for the season. Rookies that join the team in the middle of June to replace an injured starter often don’t. Washington Nationals starter Joe Ross may not have made the team out of spring training, but he exceeded by far any expectations fans and coaches had for him heading into 2015.

The 22-year-old right-hander boasted an impressive rookie campaign, going 5-5 with a 3.64 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 3,42 FIP, 69 strikeouts, and 21 walks in 16 games (13 starts). After an impressive stretch to start his young career, Ross began to tire out from the longest season he had ever endured. While the numbers don’t look extraordinary, Ross’s performance was much better than expected, and improved the team’s perspective on the rotation heading into 2016 and beyond.

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The brother of San Diego Padres starter Tyson Ross, the young pitcher arrived with star prospect Trea Turner over the offseason in a three-way trade with the Padres and Tampa Bay Rays. A former first-round pick drafted straight out of high school, the potential was always there for Joe Ross. With his fastball topping out around 95-96 mph, the Nats’ young starter is heavily reliant on his sinker and slider. His best pitch, the slider, induced swings-and-misses 25.2% of the time (according to Brooks Baseball). With good control being a strong suit for Ross, the sky is the limit for this young right-hander.

After a forgettable major league debut, Joe Ross made his mark on the Milwaukee Brewers during his second career start. He went eight strong innings, allowed two earned runs while striking out eight batters and walking one. He didn’t stop there however, putting up stellar performances start after start from June through August, despite shuffling back and forth between Washington and the triple-A Syracuse Chiefs. Once his arm began to tire out in September, he was relegated to a bullpen role, where he added three shutout relief appearances to his repertoire.

The Nationals’ roster is far from perfect heading into this offseason. Between a thin lineup, a wreck of a bullpen, and a vacant managerial position at the moment, Washington will have a lot of work to do this winter. One factor they will be able to count on, however, will be Joe Ross’s presence in the rotation. Between Ross, Max Scherzer, and the highest rated pitching prospect in all of baseball in Lucas Giolito, the future of the rotation in D.C. looks bright.

SP/RP. Washington Nationals. JOE ROSS. B.

Next: Nationals 2015 Player Review: Clint Robinson

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