The last time Joe Ross pitched in a game at Nationals Park was July 9th of 2017. Ross was pulled in the 4th inning after his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow tore. Shortly afterwards, Ross joined a distinguished lineage of Nationals pitchers who have undergone the dreaded “Tommy John” surgery to repair the ligament. It was just two weeks ago that one of the Nationals top pitching prospects, Seth Romero, had TJ surgery. It’s becoming more commonplace especially among the flamethrowers, and the pitchers who rely on sliders.
Ross, throws his slider almost 37% of the time, and it’s by far his best pitch. He has two speeds he can throw on that slider to mix it up a little with a slurvier slider that breaks differently with a slightly lower velo. Brooks Baseball has tabulated some 81 mph curves in the Joe Ross repertoire — but those are his slurvier slider with a different pronation on his wrist. Ross has also thrown fastballs 54% of the time averaging over 93mph. When Ross toes the rubber tonight, we will see his velo, pitch mix, and effectiveness. Yes, Joe “Cool” also throws a changeup. His most effective pitch is the slider, and the opposition only has a .186 batting average against the slider while fastball/changeup are hit at over .319 average.
“The uncertainty of how it will end, if you’ll be back, if I’ll be back, was the toughest part I think for me,” Ross said of the recovery period. “But I kind of just went day-by-day and I am back here now, so it paid off in the end. Obviously, number one [priority] is being healthy. So as long as I can finish the rest of this year, and feel good and strong then that’s fine with me. But inside, I want to compete so when I go out to pitch I’m going to go and try to win a game. It’s not really trying to show my worth to the team in these last 30-days. I’m just trying to go out there and win games.”
As the Nationals welcome back Joe Ross, they are hoping he will be the “stopper” to this 3-game losing streak. It won’t be an easy task with Cubs lefty Jon Lester going tonight.
The other factor for tonight is the weather and whether or not the game is delayed has been a question for much of the wet summer in Washington, D.C. in 2018. Nats’ management is more concerned with their young pitchers staying healthy.
“We want to make sure that [the pitchers coming off the DL] are healthy and performing to the standards that we feel that they’re capable of doing,” Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “We want them to perform well enough to win baseball games and to show to us and to themselves that this is something that moving forward we can use in the future.”
With Joe Ross coming back, his remaining starts of 2018 also feels like a glimpse into the future. Some feel Ross should be a bullpen arm while others feel if he can get back to his form we saw with his 2016 ascent when he looked like a top of the rotation pitcher with a 3.43 ERA and on Opening Day in March of 2019, Ross will only be 25 years old. He was young when he made his debut and the former 1st-round pick by the Padres is still young.
In other news, Sean Doolittle was activated, and the Nats have really missed him as the team just has not been the same since his last appearance before the All-Star break all the way back to July 6th with a foot injury. Just last night we saw the Nats lose another game in the bullpen with an 8th inning blown save and then a 10th inning meltdown for another one of those losses against the Cubs that Nats fans are just getting used to. The Nationals have had 9 bullpen losses since Doolittle went on the DL.
Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch: 7:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN; MLB.TV app out-of-network
Nats Radio: 106.7 The Fan and via the MLB app
Line-ups subject to change without notice:
- Adam Eaton RF
- Trea Turner SS
- Bryce Harper CF
- Anthony Rendon 3B
- Ryan Zimmerman 1B
- Juan Soto LF
- Adrian Sanchez 2B
- Spencer Kieboom C
- Joe Ross RHP