For the first time since July 9, 2017, Joe Ross took the mound last Friday night in Nationals Park, a year-plus removed from Tommy John surgery.
Ross, 25, who was acquired from the San Diego Padres along with Trea Turner in a three-team trade which included the Tampa Bay Rays in December of 2014, put up a 3.95 ERA, a 3.90 FIP, 70 walks (2.47 BB/9), 230 Ks (8.11 K/9), and a .260/.318/.420 line against in 252 1⁄3 innings pitched as a starter before he was forced to undergo the surgical procedure.
Earlier this summer, the right-hander told reporters that while it wasn’t an easy road back, but he did all the work that was necessary to give himself an opportunity to return to the mound in the majors this season.
Unfortunately for the right-hander, his initial return to the rotation lasted all of five outs before rain in the nation’s capital led to a delay and eventual postponement.
In the short time he was out there, Ross managed to impress, however, dialing up a few 97 mph fastballs that he hadn’t been throwing before the surgery.
“He was electric,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“It was just frustrating delaying the game and then getting rained out in the second inning,” Ross said. “But I felt good. My stuff felt good.”
Ross looked good again on Thursday afternoon, taking on the Cubs again in the make-up game for last Sunday’s postponed series finale.
He tossed three scoreless to start, but a leadoff single by Kris Bryant, RBI double by Javier Baez, and RBI single by Victor Caratini in the fourth put the Cubs ahead 2-1.
Ross came back out with a scoreless fifth, working around a one-out walk in an 11-pitch top of the inning that left him at 74 pitches total on the day, and he was hit for in the bottom of the fifth as the Nationals tied things up at 2-2 in what eventually ended up a 4-3 loss.
Joe Ross’s Line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 Ks, 74 P, 47 S, 3/2 GO/FO.
Ross threw a mix of four-seamers (93-95 mph), sinkers (93-94), changeups (88-90), and sliders (87-89), and told reporters afterwards he was satisfied with the outing.
“Yeah, for the most part,” Ross said, as quoted by MASN’s Zuckerman. “My slider kind of needed some work today. It was kind of flat and leaving it up a little bit. But for the most part, I felt pretty good. Fastball, especially sinker, was getting good movement on some, especially the ones down in the zone. Felt good out there today. Just glad it wasn’t raining again.”
“He was good,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said after the game. “[He] kept us in the ballgame. He was real good. Changeup was better. Had a couple high-leverage innings there so we thought we were down so we had to pinch hit for him, but he pitched well.”
“I would have liked to go deeper in the game,” Ross added, as quoted by MLB.com’s Ben Standig, “but unfortunately, I was getting ahead in certain situations.
“Hopefully next time, I can get ahead a little bit better and pitch deeper in the game. But, for the first [full] game back, I feel pretty good about myself.”