Washington Nationals: Breaking down the fifth starter candidates

mdholleran
CINCINNATI, OH - MARCH 31: Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals gets a visit from pitching coach Derek Lilliquist in the sixth inning of the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on March 31, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Nationals won 13-7. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - MARCH 31: Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals gets a visit from pitching coach Derek Lilliquist in the sixth inning of the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on March 31, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Nationals won 13-7. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

1 – Joe Ross

Our first candidate and probably the frontrunner for the job at this point is right-hander Joe Ross. Since being acquired in 2015 Ross has posted some solid production for the Washington Nationals.

In his rookie year, he appeared in 16 games and posted a 5-5 record with a 3.64 ERA In 2016 Ross started 19 games with a 7-5 record and an even better 3.43 ERA The Nationals had high expectations for Ross in 2017, as he earned a spot in the rotation, but things did not go as planned.

The San Diego native struggled greatly in 2017 posting a 5-3 record with a 5.01 ERA in just 73 innings. As if things could not get worse, Ross was injured and forced to have Tommy John surgery, keeping him out for the rest of 2017 and almost all of the 2018 season.

When he returned in September of 2018, Ross was fairly solid in his three starts and showed some flashes of what he was back in 2016. The biggest question for the Nationals and Ross this spring is was his poor 2017 performance a result of being hurt, or will it become a trend?

Now, although Ross wasn’t a world-beater in 2015 and 2016, but he was a very good backend of the rotation guy, and that is all Washington needs. If they could get his production from those years out of anyone in their fifth starter spot the team would be well on its way to compete for a World Series title.

As it stands now, Ross seems to be the favorite for the job, and coming into spring training I would say it is his job to lose.

Chance Joe Ross is the fifth starter: 50%

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