With Joe Ross making his first start since July today for the Washington Nationals, how much should be expected of him the rest of the way?
Today, the Washington Nationals will get a valued member of their starting rotation back as Joe Ross will take the mound at Turner Field against the Braves. It will be Ross’ first start since July 2 against the Reds. After that game, he went on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.
While its great to have Ross back, his start will be cut short today. Before yesterday’s loss to the Atlanta Braves, Dusty Baker addressed the media and talked about how Ross will only go three innings today:
"“Let’s see how his arm feels,” Baker said. “Then we’ll increase the workload if we can, or maybe see how he does out of the pen. It’s just important to us that he’s on the mound in a game.” (h/t Mark Zuckerman, MASN Sports)"
Right now, Baker is correct. It is important that the Washington Nationals are at least going to get Ross back on the mound and they can see what he can do. But, the expectations for Ross shouldn’t be much. If Ross can give the Nats anything for the rest of the season and in October, it would be an added bonus.
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The pressure for the postseason, in terms of starting pitching, is going to fall on the likes of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg (if he pitches), Tanner Roark, and Gio Gonzalez. At this point, I view Ross as the ideal swing pitcher out of the bullpen on a 25-man postseason roster.
This season, the long man out of the bullpen for the Nats has been Yusmeiro Petit. While Petit does a good job in that role, Ross would be the pitcher I would like to see come in to a big situation if there is a trouble inning in the postseason for a starting pitcher.
Since he was called up to the big leagues, Ross has shown good poise on the mound in any situation and he isn’t a pitcher that is going to walk a lot of hitters. That being said, he doesn’t have that lights out fastball that will intimidate hitters out of the bullpen.
With the lack of rehab games Ross had, having him throw a couple of times over the next two weeks is going to be valuable for him to shake some of the rust off. Barring another injury to this rotation, it doesn’t sound like Ross will be needed until the rotation goes to four pitchers in an NLCS, should the Nats make it there.
At this point, the expectations should be none for Ross going forward. If he can give the Washington Nationals anything down the stretch, it will be a big plus. Going into today, if the right-hander can stay healthy, it’s a positive start regardless of the result.