Washington Nationals News: Joe Ross uses changeup, controls running game in debut

Apr 10, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Joe Ross (41) throws to the Miami Marlins during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 10, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Joe Ross (41) throws to the Miami Marlins during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

Today’s District Daily features stories on Joe Ross‘ impressive 2016 debut and Washington Nationals prospect Spencer Kieboom.

Good evening DoD readers, and welcome to today’s District Daily. Get caught up on the latest Nats news and opinions from around the web below.

In today’s Daily, the Washington Post’s James Wagner digs deep into Joe Ross’ impressive 2016 debut. In his article, Wagner discusses two key things that Ross did well in his win over the Marlins on Sunday: he used his changeup — which is still a work in progress — effectively, and he controlled the running game effectively as well.

As Wagner writes, Ross was solid all around in his first start of the season. He allowed just one run on five hits while striking out five batters and walking two over seven strong innings of work.

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Ross’ rapid ascent was one of the team’s few positive storylines in 2015, and for the first time, the right-hander has a chance to be in the rotation all season long in 2016. And while the season is just a week old at this point, Ross is already off to a good start.

While Ross was great in all aspects of his game on Sunday, he excelled in two areas in particular.

As Wagner writes, Ross did a good job of holding runners on base. He made constant, effective pickoff throws, which helped throw off the timing of a speedy Marlins lineup on the bases. In one case, as Wagner writes, Ross distracted Marlins runner Dee Gordon to the point that Wilson Ramos was able to throw him out easily when he tried to steal second base.

Additionally, Ross also saw some success with his changeup — a pitch that the right-hander has been developing since last season. While Ross’ changeup is still a work in progress, it’ll make a key addition to his pitching arsenal once he is able to throw it with confidence.

Here’s what Ross had to say about his changeup, via Wagner’s article:

"“More comfortable than last year for sure,” Ross said. “More confident in throwing it, I might’ve shaken to it once or twice. I think just knowing that I can throw it below the zone and not just rely on fastball, slider that was big. Hopefully I can carry that throughout the rest of the year.”"

Sunday’s start was a step in the right direction for Ross, and if he continues to improve as the season goes on, he’ll be a key part of the Nationals’ rotation all year long.

Also in today’s Daily, Penn Live’s Brian Linder writes about how Nationals prospect Spencer Kieboom hopes to be called up to the big league club at some point this season.

Be sure to check out both articles below, they’re definitely worth a read. And as always, stay tuned to DoD for all your Washington Nationals needs.

What you might have missed in Joe Ross’s impressive season debut

(James Wagner, Washington Post)

Joe Ross impressed in his season debut Sunday in many ways. He was sharp facing batters for the first time in more than a week. He provided seven standout innings against a capable lineup. His sinker was strong, and his slider got better as the game went on. He pitched himself calmly out of jams several times. Despite giving up a leadoff triple on the first pitch of the game to Dee Gordon, he allowed only one run.

“I told Joe: ‘You just learned damage control today because that could have turned into a three- or four-run inning,’” Manager Dusty Baker said. “But damage control is the key, especially for a young pitcher, and after that he was masterful. He had quite a few 3-2 counts there, but a couple double plays got him out of trouble, and he made some pitches when he had to make them.” Read full article here.

Harrisburg’s Spencer Kieboom eyeing spot with Washington Nationals

(Brian Linder, Penn Live)

Spencer Kieboom plans to be playing for the Washington Nationals by season’s end, and while that would be a dream come true for most players, the Harrisburg Senators catcher is a bit more grounded about it.

Instead of fulfilling a dream, Kieboom said, he would consider a call-up merely a step in the right direction.

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“I don’t find it arrogant to say that a lot of guys want to make it to the big leagues, but I always told my dad that I want to stay in the big leagues,” Kieboom said. “I don’t want to be a guy that goes up and has a cup of coffee. I’m not a freak prospect type of guy, but I know what I can bring to the table.” Read full article here.