Washington Nationals: Joe Ross Can Come Up Huge

The Washington Nationals look to win a critical four-game series against the Atlanta Braves Sunday night with Joe Ross on the mound.

2019 has been a disaster for Washington Nationals’ pitcher Joe Ross, but all that can change Sunday night.

After pulling out a gutty 5-3 win on Saturday, the Nationals sit just 5.5 games back of the division-leading Atlanta Braves and have a chance to win the four-game series with a victory Sunday night.

Cutting the deficit to 4.5 would be big, but having the confidence of winning a four-game set over the division leader would be bigger. Washington will face Kevin Gausman for the Braves, a guy who they have had success against in the past. Gausman has a 6.21 ERA on this season, and is 4-2 against Washington in his career, but holds a 6.31 ERA against them and has given up 46 hits in 35.2 innings.

So all of this seems great, right? The Nationals are playing well, facing a pitcher with a poor history against them, and a chance to get a series win, what could go wrong? Well, the guy who is pitching for the Nationals has not lit the world on fire this season either.

Coming into the season, Joe Ross had a mixed bag of expectations around him. Ross made the team out of spring training and pitched fairly well to start. With the dreadful performance of the Washington bullpen, Ross was forced to assume the role of a late-inning reliever, and he did a solid job to start.

On April 30 he had a 3.86 ERA in eight appearances and had given up no runs in seven of them. After this solid start, Ross started to fall apart. On May Fourth against the Philidelphia, Phillies Ross got rocked, giving up five earned runs and recording just one out. In his most recent performance, against the team he will face on Sunday night the Atlanta Braves, Ross blew the Nationals’ lead giving up four runs on five hits in just one inning.

It is fair to say pitching out of the bullpen did not go all that well for Ross, but he will not be doing that Sunday. Ross will start a game for the first time since September 28, 2018. It will not be easy for the Nationals’ right-hander, as he has a 7.40 career ERA against the Atlanta Braves.

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All the flip-flopping from the bullpen to the rotation may have hurt Joe Ross, but he has a chance to make his case as a starter in a big way Sunday night. If he can come out and defy the odds, beating the Braves to give the Nationals the series win, he basically guarantees himself another start. It will not be easy, but if Ross is able to beat Atlanta, it could be one of the biggest wins of the season for the Nationals.