The Situation: The Nationals need a fresh arm with Stephen Strasburg and Doug Fister landing on the disabled list, and Ross' pitching schedule just happens to align with the Nationals' needs. Not only that, but Ross just happened to spin one of his best starts of the year, carving up the Bowie Baysox through seven strong innings.
Background: Selected as the 25th overall pick in a 2011 draft loaded with pitching, the younger brother of Padres' starting pitcher Tyson Ross has begun to grow into the durable innings-eater many envisioned four years ago. His professional career started out slowly, as a shoulder strain in 2012 limited him to just 54 2/3 innings, after making the jump straight to Low-A that April. It's been full steam ahead for the right-hander since then. Last off-season, he was acquired by the Nationals in the trade that sent Steven Souza to the Rays and Wil Myers to the Padres, and Ross continues to be one of the less publicized commodities in that mega deal.
Scouting Report: Ross displays a three pitch arsenal, with a plus fastball and both an average slider and changeup. The big-framed pitcher has a strong body with broad shoulders and an overall sturdy frame, conducive for eating a plethora of innings. In my recent viewing, Ross peppered the bottom of the zone with his arsenal, making it difficult for hitters to barrel his pitches coming from a big downhill plane. When Ross stays on top of his pitches, he succeeds. The big righty does not have much growth left, and the call-up is coming at an opportune time, where he can get a cup of coffee and display his value for the club moving forward.
Most Recent Eyewitness Scouting Report: May 31, 2015
Immediate Big League Future: Ross is close, if not fully, major league ready. I was originally anticipating a late season call-up for him, so this should not cause much of a deterrence on his ETA in the long-run. For now, Ross is likely a spot-start option for the Nationals, who will hopefully receive some pitching back from the disabled list soon. However, Ross can fill in, and likely succeed, this season if the Nationals need it. He'll be back in September regardless. —Tucker Blair
Fantasy Impact: At some point, Ross is extremely likely to make a major league impact—and thus a fantasy impact—in the Nationals rotation. The question at the moment is how much of an impact Ross will be able to make in 2015. His start on Saturday is a sure thing; beyond that it is an open question as to how much time the Nationals will give him in the majors as a starting pitcher.
The once vaunted Nationals starting five suddenly has as many holes as the plot of a Nicolas Cage film, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that Ross has a clear path to the rotation for the rest of the season. Doug Fister is about to being a rehab assignment and although Stephen Strasburg isn’t quite ready to do the same, he started playing catch and seems to be making a quick recovery from his left trapezius strain. An educated guess likely places Ross’ time in the rotation at about a month, assuming that Fister and Strasburg recover from their injuries as currently expected.
Ross has never pitched above Double-A, but it still seems like he has the stuff to succeed with the Nationals. Two elements give Ross some added appeal that would not be present for other pitchers in his position are a strong team behind him that should increase Ross’s chances of picking up wins and the advantage of facing a weak NL East slate due to the imbalanced major league schedule. A diet of the Mets, Phillies, Marlins, and Braves will go a long way toward pushing Ross’ value a little higher than that of a pitcher in another league and/or division.
Ross doesn’t make much sense in standard mixed, but he is a decent enough streaming option in deeper mixed leagues – particularly in the aforementioned NL East matchups mentioned above. His best case scenario in real life is as a #3 or #4 starting pitcher, and while it isn’t likely that Ross gets there immediately due to some of the refinements he still needs to make, he could play that way in matchups. In deep mixed leagues, don’t break the bank; a five dollar bid or something in that range should be sufficient. NL-only formats are where you probably will have to spend at least $15-20 if you want to obtain Ross’ services. There is certainly risk in this price, but the thin nature of the NL pitching pool, in addition to the lack of obvious AL-only pitchers who will get traded into the Senior Circuit this summer, make Ross more than a cheap add in mono leagues. —Mike Gianella
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