Washington Nationals: Joe Ross Demoted To Syracuse

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Apr 19, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Joe Ross (41) delivers a pitch to an Atlanta Braves batter in the seventh inning of their game at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 19, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Joe Ross (41) delivers a pitch to an Atlanta Braves batter in the seventh inning of their game at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /
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A pair of bad starts cost Joe Ross a place on the Washington Nationals. Jacob Turner will take is spot in the rotation as the youngster tries to regain his game.

(Since publication, the Nats announced A.J. Cole has been promoted.)

The Washington Nationals demoted starting pitcher Joe Ross to Triple-A Syracuse Monday and told nobody.

Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post found the move on the transaction wire and tweeted the decision early Tuesday morning. Yet, no player has been promoted from the minors to put the roster back to 25 players. Unless there is an injury, Ross must remain 21 days before he can be recalled.

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Jacob Turner, who made a spot start when Stephen Strasburg left for paternity leave, will fill Ross’ place in the rotation. He pitched the opener of last week’s four-game series against the Colorado Rockies without earning a decision. In six innings, he scattered six hits and three runs while striking out six.

The decision to demote Ross is not a surprise.

Unable to get past the fifth inning his last two starts, he allowed 10 earned runs over 8.2 innings. Given a combined 38 runs in support, he failed to stay in the game long enough to earn either win. With a flat slider and an inability to retire batters, he is not ready for Major League Baseball.

Ross did not make the club out of Spring Training. Instead, he started the year with the Syracuse Chiefs and made a poor first start in frigid conditions against the Rochester Red Wings. Another start against the Pawtucket Red Sox went well and, after Jeremy Guthrie coughed up 10 runs in less than an inning, Ross came up.

The start in Colorado was in wretched conditions in mixed precipitation. A pitcher like Ross who depends on movement and feel to get runners out will struggle in games where he cannot feel his fingers. Sunday’s start against the New York Mets was not the case.

A hot, sticky afternoon with the temperatures above 88 and high humidity, Ross’ pitches were flat. As with Colorado, the Mets crushed two balls out of the yard. Trying to avoid a messy weekend sweep, Ross was not around when the Nats offense exploded for 23.

For Ross, this is a wake-up call. When he did not make the team before, most assumed it was a numbers game. Make no mistake, Washington has been unhappy with his approach since his injury last year.

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Maybe this time, he will pay attention.

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