Nationals Baseball: Joe Ross' last chance?

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Joe Ross' last chance?

The Nats have a LOT of leeway right now. The division is already at the point that situations where the Nats don't win the division are all "Nats play terribly (which is nothing like they've played so far) and other team plays great (which is nothing like they've played so far)"* That means in theory they can run Joe Ross out there over and over again and really it doesn't matter.

Still, do the Nats want to do that?  Joe has had three starts since coming back. His first one was great. 8IP 5H 0BB 6K.  He induced 12 GBs in compared to 9 flyballs. His next two starts though, were retreads of his pre injury starts.  Combined he threw 7 innings gave up 19(!) hits, and only induced 9 ground balls to 22 flyballs. A bad start today would give Joe 5 in 7 outings and really call into question whether he's healthy and/or whether he has major league talent.

Now I know there are going to be some of you that say "He should be in the bullpen!" Let's hold off on that. Yes a lot of pen guys are failed starters but that does not mean a lot of failed starters end up being pen guys. Nor does it mean that anyone failing at starting needs to be shifted to relief ASAP.

First let's take an objective look at when you give up on a starter. I would say that I'd want to move a starter into a relief roll if he had continued failure and he was past prospect age - something around 26/27. I guess I could be convinced if he didn't have outright failure but it looked as if his success where not sustainable, but I'd have to be convinced.

So let's apply this to Joe.  Is he old? Not at all, in fact he just had his 24th birthday less than a month ago. He's not a spring chicken, but he's young enough. Has he had continued failure? No, his failures are pretty much limited to the 1/3rd of a season we've had so far. Maybe if you want to be picky you could point to his 4 starts in Syracuse last year but that's really it until you go back to him as a 19 year old.  Has his past successes been mirages? I see good to decent WHIPs, fair enough K/9 ratios, consistently low HR/9 numbers. No, nothing here that says he was destined for the awfulness we are seeing now.

Now this doesn't mean Joe is destined for greatness. He gave up hits at a much greater rate in the majors in 2016 than 2015. It's possible teams are figuring him out. At the same time the change between before injury 2016 and after injury 2016 seems dramatic and quick enough that I can't deny that injury feels like the biggest factor. This is big to me because if it is injury and not adjustment then moving Joe to the pen isn't likely to help.

I know the Nats need bullpen help but rushing Joe back didn't seem to bring success. I can't imagine rushing him into a relief role, which is what this would be, would bring success either. What he needs now is more time to heal. I know, I know. Voth has been garbage this year. Cole is Cole. The Nats best AAA starter is Kyle McGowin who should be a fill in starter in AAA. Ross is the best option the Nats have. But if the Nats have the leeway to throw Ross out there every fifth day in this condition, they can run Voth or Cole out there as well. (Really they should just pick up WS charm Jake Peavy and tell him not to embarrass himself) 

*For example if the Nats play under .500 ball for the rest of the year (51-53) they finish 88-74. For the Braves or Mets to pass them they will have to play 63-42 ball the rest of the year, which is like a 97 win pace.


Jay said...

I agree that if Ross continues to struggle he has to go on the DL no matter what he says about being injured. I also agree that the likelihood of another team in the NL east catching the Nats is remote. The other teams in their division aren't even .500 much less likely to play at a 100-win pace.

My big question is why did the Nats give up on Giolitto so quickly? Giolitto played part of one year last year between AAA and MLB. The Nats brass decided from that short time period that he wasn't worth keeping around. That is my problem with the Eaton trade. Eaton may well be great. He was great before he got hurt. However, they traded Giolitto, and Lopez, and Dunning. I would have been fine with Giolitto or Lopez and then Dunning included. Sending both Giolitto and Lopez makes it seem like the Nats couldn't get rid of Giolitto fast enough. A mistake in my mind. Just like not signing Melancon after trading Felipe Rivero now looks quite bad. Rivero for Melancon for 3-4 years = not so bad. Rivero for 2 months of Melancon = pretty dumb.

Harper said...

Jay - bc the consensus turned on Giolito very quickly over 2016 from "Possible impact starter in next year or two" to "Probable reliable back of rotation starter within a few years, maybe more with work". Now of course you need those guys too (see Nats organization currently) so that can't alone be it.

one obvious interpretation is that the Nats don't believe they will keep Bryce, are aiming for a WS in the next two seasons and didn't think Giolito/Lopez would really help that come about.

Another way to look at it would be the Nats saw the White Sox were selling, knew the contract Eaton had was a great deal, knew they probably needed a CF and were determined to make it happen.

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper: The Nats could also start Turner as the 5th starter. I know you think he isn't good. But I'd argue there is much more reason to think he would perform adequately this year in that role than Ross. Thats the way I would go.

PotomacFan said...

@Jay. That's quite a bit of second guessing on the Rivero - Melancon trade. Nats needed a reliable closer and they got one. To get something good, you have to give up something. They gave up Rivero, who looked promising, but nothing like what he is doing this year. That was a win-win trade. If Nats had not gotten a closer, fans would be all over Rizzo for failing to get an essential piece to make a run in the playoffs.

Same for Eaton. That was a good trade for the Nats. You have to give up good players (or prospects) to get good players. Or you have to pay a lot for free agents. Which the Nats don't often do (except Werth and Scherzer).

BxJaycobb said...

Also. Neither Lopez nor Giolito have been anything close to decent starting material this year. In fact, gioltio's performance has been nothing short of abysmal in AAA. Assuming Eaton can return as a similar player to what he was pre-injury (not a definite assumption), there is still every possibility that the Nats win that trade, and even win it by a healthy margin. It just stinks that he got hurt this year obviously.

G Cracka X said...

Regarding Rivero, there was a very good article in WaPo about how Pittsburgh improved him. Apparently, he was tipping pitches, so they fixed that. Also, they adjusted his torso movement so there was less twisting; also adjusted his step I believe. And they gave him a role.

All that is to say if the Nats kept him, he probably would not be putting up a sub-1 ERA this year. Give credit to Ray Searage for Rivero's emergence.

Harper said...

BX - Lopez has been meh - better after a couple bad starts very early on but still with some peripherals you don't like - if he were 26 and you needed help you'd stick him in the back of a major league rotation to see what happens. As it is you let him get more seasoning see if he learns.

Giolito has been mostly down - occasionally able to have a good start but unable to get the Ks back up and relying on balls being hit where they is. Except his last start - which was really great. But that's one. Wake me when it's three in a row.

Ole PBN said...

Giolito's mechanics are what did him in with the Nats. That high arm slot allows the hitter to track the pitch before he even starts his forward motion. From there, he'll need Pedro Martinez stuff/movement or Gregg Maddux control to have success; neither of which Giolito has. This arm slot issue can be corrected, but takes a lot of time and is in a way a reinvention of a pitcher, which the Nats weren't confident he could do. Plus with the Chicago selling Eaton with that contract, it was too good to pass up. Giolito, as Harper said, was a project in the making with no clear end in sight. Now the White Sox are seeing a similar problem. Remains to be seen if they can help him there.

My guess is Giolito makes his debut later this year and may get a few opportunities to showcase as a back-end starter in Chicago's rotation for the next couple years before being converted to a reliever or being dealt away for something else. Unless he turns into a Wade Davis or an Andrew Miller (failed starter turned reliever), the Nats won't regret this trade.

Fries said...

My thing with Ross is that, even if he continues to perform poorly, he's performing just as well or better than any of the other options. There isn't even a need to run him out there in the playoffs, which is really what we should care about given that the Nats are going to runaway with the East barring any huge injuries. I say the Nats put him on the DL if necessary and get him healthy for his own sake, but he's not severely damaging the team right now

Josh Higham said...

Harper, please write a post suggesting that Ross should be demoted or DL'd every time he's scheduled to pitch. Not certain it would help, but it certainly couldn't hurt. Also, Robot, could you please remind us now and again how bad he is?

BxJaycobb said...

This was literally the LAST thing i expected from ross tonight.

Kevin Rusch said...

So if you think about the nats as essentially coasting till October (which at this point they are) you might as well keep Ross in the #5 role until labor day. Then move him to the bullpen where he can use that slider in October. You can have (I don't really care who) for the #5 starter in Sept. Then the bullpen will have Ross, Fedde, Glover, and whomever else is doing well by then.

Froggy said...

That Spring chicken* Joe Ross fans 12 and leads the Killer B's + Harper to a nice curly W!

My nephew who is visiting from Louisiana went with me tonight and after he struck out the side in one the innings he asks: is he your #3? And I said: no, he is our part time #5 depending on where his arm slot is that day.

*From where I sit Harper in the Fall Rooster seats 24 years old is a Spring chicken!

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