Joe Ross was called up this afternoon to make tonight’s start against the Atlanta Braves in the second game of Washington’s three-game set in SunTrust Park.
The Nationals also announced that they were placing left-handed reliever Sammy Solis on the 10-Day Disabled List L with left elbow inflammation. No word on the extent of Solis’s injury though the fact that he was placed on the 10-Day DL could be a positive sign.
As for Ross? He’s back in the majors after starting the season at Triple-A Syracuse.
Citing the shoulder injury (inflammation) which cost Ross two-plus months on the DL at the end of the 2016 campaign, Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies last week that they would bring the 23-year-old along slowly this season in hopes of keeping him strong throughout the season.
“We’re going to nurse him along early in the season because we want to make sure that he’s prepared to finish the season strong,” Rizzo said.
Rizzo added that the plan out of Spring Training was to keep Ross at Triple-A at the start this season, where they could control his outings, knowing they could get by with four starters early with days off in the schedule over the first few weeks, then bring him up, “... around the April 19th area where we’re going to need a fifth starter again and this way we’ll have saved him three or four starts that we can utilize later in the season.”
Around the April 19th “area”, of course, meant April 19th, as Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker confirmed Tuesday afternoon, when he met with reporters in advance of the series opener with the Atlanta Braves, explaining that he hoped the steps taken with Ross early this season were the last they needed to take to manage his innings.
“Hopefully this is the only step we’ll have to make,” Baker said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“Because we did indeed miss Joe. The move that we made to protect Joe kind of hurt us. So, hopefully, we don’t have to do much more protecting of Joe. And if we do, we’ll deal with that when we get there.”
Baker said last week that he wanted Ross to come back up and force his way into the top of the rotation.
“I hope that some time in the future that Joe, for his career and our sake, will move up eventually and not be a No. 5 starter anymore,” Baker said.
“Because the No. 5 starter is a tough spot. I mean, that’s the guy you skip in the order, invariably, if you have off days or whatever, that he’s matching up with No. 1s and No. 2s, he’s not always matching up with fours or fives.
“That’s a tough spot, but you’ve got to pitch your way out of that spot.”
Ross was (7-5) in his second major league campaign last summer, posting a 3.43 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 29 walks (2.49 BB/9) and 93 Ks (7.97 K/9) in 19 starts and 105 innings.
In two starts at Triple-A to start the season, Ross was (0-1) with a 3.72 ERA, 2.60 FIP, three walks and nine Ks in 9 2⁄3 IP before he was called up today.
Solis, 28, has made six appearances out of the Nationals’ bullpen this season, posting a 8.31 ERA, a 6.60 FIP, three walks (6.23 BB/9) and three Ks (6.23 K/9) in 4 1⁄3 IP. He made an appearance in last night’s game, working around a hit in a scoreless frame.