The Washington Nationals had a “Help Wanted” sign for starting pitchers seeking temp work in place of Jeremy Hellickson and Max Scherzer. General Manager has filled those spots with Erick Fedde, Austin Voth, Kyle McGowin, and Joe Ross to audition. Voth injured his shoulder, and McGowin was not that good. Fedde now has more starts this season than Hellickson. It might surprise some to hear that Fedde now has ten starts and most of them have been good. For Joe Ross, today will only be his third start of the season, but he also had that forgettable appearance where he tandem started with Matt Grace who was the “opener”. Ross threw a gem five days ago in Arizona for a much needed win. What was interesting in that start in Arizona has to be the change to Ross’ arsenal in that game.
In previous appearances, Ross was throwing mostly straight fastballs that were getting hit hard and far. Pitching coach Paul Menhart and Ross knew they had to rework the plan. When Ross took the mound in Arizona, something seemed different. He had gone back to the future with his original repertoire as a sinkerballer with two breaking pitches. This goes against the trend in MLB where pitchers are ditching the sinker which is a pitch-to-contact philosophy, and the new-school thinking is you want more strikeouts and less balls put in play (BABIP). Ross threw some four-seam fastballs and a few changeups, but he kept the Diamondbacks off-balance with the movement on his sinker and a slider he threw under the lefties hands. Ross also threw a slower velo breaking pitch which some call a curveball and some call a slurve. Whatever it is, the pitch worked. Ross shutout the hot-hitting Diamondbacks over 5 1/3 innings.
The only issue for Ross in his last start was a few walks, but after Menhart visited him on the mound — Ross locked in and dominated for the rest of his start. Now the question is, can Ross repeat his success from his last start and prove that he deserves to be a long-term piece in this organization. In this afternoon game, Oracle Park should play a little bit smaller, and the challenge for Ross is to make his pitches and limit the baserunners.
For the Giants, they will go with the rookie righty Shaun Anderson. He has 15 career starts and the last bunch has not been good as he has struggled to a 6.62 ERA. In his first nine starts, he only gave up more than three runs in one game. Since then, he has not gone past five innings, and he has struggled with his command.
Washington Nationals vs. San Francisco Giants
Stadium: Oracle Park, San Francisco, California
1st Pitch: 3:45 pm EDT
TV: MASN2, NBC Sports Bay Area, MLB.TV
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® ( Streaming Internet 869)
Line-up subject to change (without notice):