Joe Ross, who is in camp competing for the fifth spot in the Washington Nationals’ rotation, came into Saturday afternoon’s start against the Miami Marlins with a total of five scoreless innings on the mound in two Grapefruit League outings.
His manager, Davey Martinez, stayed back in West Palm Beach, FL’s FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches to get an up-close look at how the 26-year-old is doing while a split-squad of Nationals traveled to Port St. Lucie, FL to take on the New York Mets.
“I want to put eyes on what he’s doing really well so that if anything does go awry,” Martinez explained, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jessica Camerato.
“I can actually see — I know we’ve got video and stuff, but for me, I’m very visual and I like to watch and see how he’s doing.”
Ross tossed another two scoreless innings against the Nats’ NL East rivals, working around a single and back-to-back, two-out walks which loaded the bases before he got out No. 3 on a grounder to third base in a 24-pitch first.
Ross retired the Marlins in order in the second, but his run of scoreless innings came to end in the Marlins’ third, when he issued a leadoff walk to Jonathan Villar then gave up a one-out single by Corey Dickerson and a two-run double by Jesús Aguilar.
The double ended Ross’s outing after 57 pitches in 2 1⁄3 IP over which he gave up three hits, three walks, and the two earned runs.
The third inning, Ross acknowledged, “... was more of a tough inning than I’ve had the last couple outings,” but, he added, “getting the pitch count up and then working with runners on base and stuff, it feels good to get used to that at least now, instead of going into the season and then all of a sudden bases are loaded and I’m like, ‘Well, I’ve never done this before.’ But yeah, so it’s good to get that one out of the way, I guess.”
Joe Ross evaluates his start against the Marlins: pic.twitter.com/uevvzEKKmn— Jessica Camerato (@JessicaCamerato) March 7, 2020
Martinez said he noticed that Ross’s tempo was slower than it had been in previous starts.
“When he gets that slow, it’s almost like his body, just his mechanics are a little off,” Martinez said. “We told him, ‘Next time out, don’t overthink everybody, don’t overanalyze. Just go out there and pitch.’”
“I felt like I was rushing a little bit through my mechanics,” Ross told reporters.
“Especially the first inning, but second inning felt like I made an adjustment and was a little closer around the zone more consistently. Curveball wasn’t great today, but still kind of battled, and then I had that one long at bat, but I mean overall just feel good with how I feel on the mound and stuff like that, but still got to work on tinkering with some things and making the in-game adjustments.”
Through three starts, Ross has now given up four hits, four walks, and two earned runs with three strikeouts and a .167 BAA through 7 1⁄3 IP this Spring.
“He’s attacking the strike zone,” Martinez said after what ended up a 2-2 tie with the Fish.
“His breaking ball is good. His slider’s getting a lot better. His changeup’s actually been improving.
“I just want to make sure we keep him right here, right now and kind of continue to build him up.”
Meanwhile, Austin Voth, who’s one of the other three starters competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, tossed three scoreless against the New York Mets on the road in Port St. Lucie, and Erick Fedde, who’s out of options, and likely to start the season in the minors, will start against the Detroit Tigers today in West Palm Beach.