Baseball sometimes defies logic. Statistics and trends are the predictors for what a baseball player will do now, and Joe Ross broke the computer modeling. He put together back-to-back zero run games in Arizona where the ball was flying and in San Francisco where the ball was dying, and now this new version of “Joe Cool” wants to continue to defy logic and prove that those who gave up on him were wrong. While the analytics people are converting sinkerballers to four-seamers, Ross has bucked that trend in his previous two starts while mixing up his pitch mix between his sinker, two-seam swingback, four-seamer, hard slider, soft breaker (curve/slurve), and a changeup. That is six distinct looks he is now throwing, and it is a total role reversal of what he was doing before where his fastballs were getting hit like a nightmare scene from a Home Run Derby.
This resurgent Joe Ross could not have found himself at a better time as his team was in dire straits after Max Scherzer suffered a rhomboid injury. With the work of pitching coach, Paul Menhart, and input from his teammates, Ross is now trying to make the decision hard for his bosses for when Scherzer returns and possibly for the return of the Nationals’ Opening Day fifth starter Jeremy Hellickson. But this is also an audition for 2020 as Ross will be out of minor league options and arbitration eligible.
The Cincinnati Reds will send the left-handed Alex Wood to the mound. The Nats know him well from his tenure in Atlanta and Los Angeles. This year’s sample size on the oft-injured Wood is only three starts and 14 1/3 innings.
Only six of the Nats regulars have ever faced Wood before and don’t let the lefty/righty thing fool you as plenty of lefties have hit Wood well. Gerardo Parra is 6-9 off of him, and in the other batter’s box Anthony Rendon is 8-17 (.471). We will see how Nats manager Dave Martinez pencils up his lineup. Reds’ manager David Bell has already posted his lineup and the only change is at catcher with Farmer over Barnhardt. For the Nats lineup, will it be Juan Soto in leftfield or Parra as Soto recovers from an ankle sprain. Will Brian Dozier return to the lineup as well as Howie Kendrick?
Cincinnati Reds vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch: 7:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN2, FOX Sports Ohio, MLB.TV
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® ( Streaming Internet 869)
Line-up subject to change (without notice):