Joe Ross struggled in a relief role, with an 11.08 ERA and a .338/.449/.585 line against in 14 2⁄3 innings pitched out of the bullpen, but he put together a solid outing in his first start of the season (8 H, 3 ER, 5 1⁄3 IP), before struggling when he came in after a so-called opener in his second appearance in the majors in July.
Last time out before Wednesday afternoon in San Francisco, however, the 26-year-old right-hander showed the promise which put him on the fast track to the big leagues once the Nationals acquired him from the San Diego Padres in late 2014.
Ross held the Arizona D-backs scoreless during the recent series in Chase Field, giving up five walks but just one hit in an 87-pitch, 5 1⁄3-inning outing in which he earned his first win of the season.
“He fell behind a lot,” manager Davey Martinez said, “but when he was able to throw strikes, he was effective. We talked after his last outing about his two-seamer and knowing when to throw his four-seamer up, and he did that really well today, and then he started throwing his breaking balls a lot better.
“I told him, ‘You pitched great. If you can just pitch like that, compete, and keep us in ballgames, that’s what we need.”
Ross tossed four scoreless to start against the Giants on Wednesday afternoon in the series finale in Oracle Park, but ran into trouble in the fifth, giving up back-to-back hits and then a two-out, base-loading walk before he got out No. 3 on a pop to short right which ended the threat and a 25-pitch frame that left the starter at 86 pitches overall.
A 13-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth ended Ross’s outing, and left him with 11 1⁄3 scoreless innings in two starts on the Nationals’ road trip...
Joe Ross’s Line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 99 P, 59 S, 5/5 GO/FO.
“Another really good outing from Joe,” Davey Martinez said after the 4-1 win that gave the Nationals a sweep of the three-game series, “and he pushed through — he had one little, a little [trouble in the] fifth inning and we sent him back out, we sent him back out to see what he could do and he got through that sixth inning and it was awesome. But I like what I’m seeing out of him and [Erick] Fedde both. He’s got five days and go back at it again for him, and I told him, I said, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing.’ I mean his two-seamer is working, he’s throwing his four-seamer on occasion, his changeup was really good today, so I really liked what he did.”
Ross threw 51 sinkers/two-seamers out of his 99 total pitches, generating nine swinging and 10 called strikes with the pitch, which sat at 93-94 MPH, though the 26-year-old said he had noticed his velocity dipping late in his last two outings.
“I’ve been feeling good and feeling strong, especially later in the game,” Ross said after he earned a second consecutive win, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“Sometimes I see the velo drop a couple miles an hour as the game goes on, but I’ve been throwing strong the last two starts.”
While both Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin struggled in their starts on the first two stops on the Nationals’ road trip, Martinez got a combined 17 1⁄3 scoreless from Ross and Fedde.
“It’s been awesome,” the second-year skipper said, “and like we talked about before, they’ve got to step up, it’s their time now. They’re getting an opportunity to pitch here in the big leagues and they’re both doing a great job. So, let’s keep them going, and I commend them both every day about how well they’re doing, so I said, ‘Keep working, you can always get better, just keep working and be ready for your next start.”