The Nats are going to keep Ross in the rotation and drop Fister into long relief. That may seem like a shocking move but really it was the only sane one for a team fighting for its playoff life.
Joe Ross since he's been up has a 2.80 ERA, 0.911 WHIP, 9.4 K/9, 0.8 BB/9
Doug Fister since coming back from injury has a 4.86 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 5.8 K/9
It isn't a contest. Literally the only reason to keep Fister in the rotation instead of Ross right now is "Ross is a rookie. Fister is a vet" That's not good enough and it's nice to see the Nats realize that. Ross may not be this good but you ride the hot hand. That being said, the Nats are probably not going to ride him for more than a few starts
Why not? Because of innings limits! Ross probably has 4-5 more starts in him before the Nats shut him down for the season. Now react violently hearing the words "shut" and "down" so close in proximity.
The Strasburg shutdown of 2012 was a hard call to make. Strasburg was arguably the best pitching prospect in a decade, was coming off injury, and all signs pointed to the Nats being good for several years. Plus the Nats were using an early August run to pull away from the Braves. Ultimately you may have not agreed with the decision but shutting down Strasburg could be argued to be the right move from several angles.
Ross in 2015 is nothing like Strasburg. He isn't coming off injury. He's was a good but not special pitching prospect. The Nats situation is far more dire now than back then. They are currently looking up at the Mets who have vastly improved their team for the stretch run (they needed it) and there is little security that the success of the past few years will follow into the future. In this case it seems like an easy decision to let him pitch.
First things first though. I said this a few days ago but it bears repeating. You let Ross go for the rest of August as planned. Then you see what is up. Could be that the Mets pull away. Could be that the Nats pull away. Could be that Ross starts putting up stinkers. A decision to shutdown Joe Ross could easily go from controversial to obvious in 3+ weeks. There's really no reason to talk about it until we're closer to month's end. All that does is invite hot takes.
It's good to see the Nats making moves like this. It shows they know the seriousness of their situation. Speaking of that, the Nats have a killer road trip coming up (LAD, SF, COL) so it's pretty important that they get no further back than they are right now. The Rockies are ok at home, terrible on the road. Three of four is pretty much a necessity. Make it happen.