Dusty Baker told reporters after the game that Joe Ross was dealing with tricep tenderness and would be undergoing an MRI to see exactly what was going on.
Apparently, Ross was only struggling with the tenderness today but it became painfully obvious to the coaches that something was going on throughout the game. The velocity on Ross’s fastball was dipping into the high 80’s — several MPH below his average of about 92 MPH. The speed dipped so low that the scoreboard actually declared the pitches changeups instead of the fastballs he was attempting to throw.
Ross’s velocity had been down his entire outing, but it was during the fourth inning that pitching coach Mike Maddux noticed that something just didn’t appear right. So he visited the mound and quickly called out trainer Paul Lessard before taking Ross out of the game.
“We saw his velocity was like 89, 88,” manager Dusty Baker said. “And then Mike saw something and we decided to take Joe out.”
While the final straw wasn’t until the fourth, the coaches started to really notice things were wrong during the third inning.
“Especially when he walked those two guys in front of Freddie,” Baker said regarding when they first realized something wasn’t going right. “Those balls weren’t even close. Usually, that’s not Joe.”
The results of the MRI weren’t back by the time Dusty was speaking to the press, so we don’t know how serious the issue might be. Anytime you have an issue with a pitcher’s arm, however, you worry that he could miss some time.
If Ross is out for more than just one start there are a couple options the Nationals could go with. When Ross was down in the minor leagues earlier this season, for instance, the team started reliever Jacob Turner. He has had his struggles this season, however, pitching to a 4.76 ERA in his two starts. His performance in the bullpen wasn’t any better and he was eventually sent down to Syracuse.
A.J. Cole is the only starter in Syracuse that’s currently on the 40 man roster, so he’d also be an option to make a couple starts in the big leagues. He’s started one game with Washington this year and had a strong performance, but currently has a 6.27 ERA with Syracuse. In other words, he’s definitely not a long term solution if he’s needed for more than one start.
With all that being said, let’s hope that the MRI doesn’t reveal anything and Ross is able to come back in top form after the All Star break.