“What’s it short for? Ya know, like Rosstopher?” “Just Ross!”
I had cautious optimism heading into the year for Tyson Ross, and he looked pretty wild early on. And not the good kind of wild. No one in San Diego is wearing Wild Thing-Ross T-Shirts. I caught most of his debut against the Dodgers, and he didn’t look right. Hitchy delivery, lower velocity, and terrible control. Since he was fringy anyway, in the one league I owned him (deeper 10-team), I cut him loose for some scrub closer. I don’t even know who, probably Matt Lindstrom, who at least vultured a win for me yesterday.
Anyway, I saw Ross was bad again in his second effort, racking up 9 walks to only 9 Ks through two games, somehow escaping with a 4.50 ERA because he piled up 6 unearned runs. Needless to say, I was pretty content to ignore him, but yesterday he turned it around against the offensively-charged Tigers. Since it’s still early, maybe he had an early mechanical issue that got worked out, and he’s back to picking up where 2013 left off. So I decided to break down his start, and see if he needs to be scooped off waivers in leagues where he was dropped or undrafted:
First Inning: The first pitch is a 92 MPH fastball to Rajai Davis. Even on the first pitch, his delivery looks a little less hitchy than that first start I saw. 93 MPH is another called strike, then a slider gets an easy flyout to left, one down. 94 MPH fastball again is in the zone to Ian Kinsler, Ross bends in a slider for a strike for back-to-back 0-2 counts, a heater is fouled off, then again fastball at 95 gets an easy groundout, two down. The announcers are now talking about how much smoother Ross looks as well – maybe something has changed. 95 MPH fastball is low to Torii Hunter, a good slider makes it 1-1, Ross misses with a fastball then another is fouled off, 2-2. A good slider almost gets a swing but it dips low, then another slider gets a pop out to short, 1-2-3 inning to get it started.
Second Inning: A rolling slider stays high to Miguel Cabrera, then a 91 MPH fastball is in the dirt and outside, and this is the Ross I saw in his debut. Ross gets a slider in there, 2-1, then somehow Cabrera is late on a 93 MPH fastball 2-2. A hot Miggy kills that one. The 2-2 is a 95 MPH fastball that almost paints the outside corner, very close. Probably his best pitch thus far.
Then 94 on the fastball gets Cabrera swinging for his first K. Ross misses to Victor Martinez twice, then a fastball is hit pretty hard to left, but it’s caught in front of the track for the second out. Fastball misses, then is in there, 1-1 to Austin Jackson followed by a slider that gets in there, 1-2. Slider is way outside, then a rolling slider that stays high is fouled off, fastball fouled off, then the 2-2 slider gets a tight late break into the dirt and Jackson swings and misses. That wasn’t a great pitch, started low from the get go, but Jackson chased a bad one.
Third Inning: Ross starts the 3rd with a 92 MPH fastball outside, hits virtually the same spot, 2-0 to Nick Castellanos, then a slider gets a big hack and miss, 2-1. Another slider is in there, then a 94 MPH fastball gets a swing-and-miss, three straight Ks for Ross. Alex Gonzalez looks at a fastball for a strike, then a 95 MPH fastball gets an inside out swing for a single. A 92 MPH fastball gets bunted by Max Scherzer and it’s a good one, moving Gonzalez to second with two outs. A very very nice slider gets a swing-and-miss from Davis, who hurts his hamstring on the swing.
Probably Ross’ best slider so far, and thankfully Davis is OK. Another big slider gets another empty swing, Ross again goes slider and Davis nubs it, and it’s hit so soft Davis gets an infield single. While a lucky hit, Ross went to his third straight slider with Davis badly fooled on the first two, and hung that one a little bit. Predictable pitch there, and Ross didn’t deliver a good one – another slider in the dirt gets a K. Runners first and third with two outs, and the first pitch is a slider that Kinsler hits to second to end the inning.
Fourth Inning: 41 pitches so far for Ross (using his fastball and slider combo exclusively) and he starts Hunter with a fastball that looked outside to me but gets the call, then he’s for sure outside 1-1, then a 92 MPH fastball is hit hard down the right field line for a leadoff double. Not a good pitch, velocity not great, big contact. First pitch to Miggy is a slider and Cabrera laces it hard to right, but it’s caught on the run on the track. Can you say Petco?! Probably off the wall if not a homer in most parks. Hunter moves to third, then the first pitch to V Mart is a fastball that Martinez crushes up the middle for an RBI single. Ross is getting hammered right now. But he responds well with a really good slider to Austin Jackson that gets a whiff, then is high with it, 1-1. A really good two seamer eats up Jackson for a foul, 1-2. Haven’t seen a lot of that running action today, so that’ll help his arsenal. An 86 MPH slider stays right down the middle, but Jackson is in front of it for a swing-and-miss. Jackson was looking fastball and was late, and it’s 4 Ks for Ross. Castellanos comes up empty with another good slider from Ross, then a fastball gets a late swing, quickly 0-2. Ross has responded really well after three straight hitters got good contact. A slider is way outside, then one is fouled, and a pretty good 94 MPH fastball gets poked to second for a pretty easy groundout to end the inning.
Fifth Inning: Ross gets some actual run support, surprisingly picking up a 4-1 lead against Scherzer, and a slider catches the outside corner to Gonzalez to start the 5th. A high slider gets a bad swing from Gonzalez who fouls it back 0-2, then another slider is outside in the dirt, 1-2. A fastball at 91, I think a two-seamer, gets a pretty hard hit groundout to third, one down. Fastball at 91 is a strike to Scherzer, a 93 MPH fastball is fouled off, 0-2. Slider is outside, 94 MPH fastball fouled off, then a 93 MPH fastball is smoked up the gap, but Jedd Gyorko makes a web gem of a diving stop and gets Scherzer out at first. Petco and defense helping Ross today! First pitch to Davis is a good slider taken for strike one, then a fastball hits Davis in the arm. Rough game for Davis at the plate, almost threw out his hammy on a bad swing then gets beaned. Ross almost picks off Davis, nice pickoff move there, and Ross then throws a bad fastball where his mechanics looked jacked up again, 0-1.
Maybe it’s pitching from the stretch that messed up that pitch. Then to the slider, and Kinsler gets just enough of it to the third base side of short that Everth Cabrera can’t make the play and it’s infield single. That was hit decently though. Slider gets him ahead of Hunter 0-1, then another slider gets a swing-and-miss, 0-2. Again to the slider outside, and Hunter can’t hold his swing in time for another K for Ross. Bad hack there from Hunter, and Ross gets out of it.
Sixth Inning: At 71 pitches, he gets ahead of Miggy, then a fastball way outside, 1-1. Again, just not the same mechanics, and again he looks wonky and a fastball is way off the plate, 2-1.
Looking back at the GIF, it looks like he’s falling off to the first base side. A much better fastball gets a foul tip, 2-2, then a fastball is hit pretty hard towards the gap, but Everth ranges to it and makes a great play. Another big play from that infield defense for Ross. 86 MPH slider bends in for strike one to V Mart, an 88 MPH change-up gets a strike, haven’t seen that yet, then 93 MPH fastball gets a lazy popout to shallow right. Two down. Fastball is outside to AJax, then slider bends low, another slider gets the top black 2-1, then a slider is way outside, 3-1. Fastball gets fouled off, then another slider is outside and Ross walks his first better. Credit Ross for lasting this long without giving a free pass! Castellanos fouls the first-pitch fastball out of play, fastball is high, then another fastball is murdered to left, but Seth Smith at full sprint and full extension robs Castellanos of at least a double. Easily would’ve plated Jackson at first, and the defense makes another big play for Ross.
Seventh Inning: At 88 pitches, Ross starts Gonzalez with a 91 MPH fastball for a strike, then a two-seamer is fouled off, then a good fastball at 93 gets some good sink for Ross’ 6th K. Pinch-hitter Tyler Collins fouls one back, then an 86 MPH change-up gets the zone, nice pitch there. A really good slider gets a swing-and-miss, and quick work for his 7th K. Slider is high to Davis, fastball fouled off, then a slider low, 2-1. An 85 MPH slider gets hit hard between short and third for a single. Nice hitting from Davis there. A slider is low to Kinsler, and Ross’ final pitch is a two-seamer that is hit hard right to Gyorko who makes the play to first.
Final Line: W 7 IP 100 Pitches (71 Strikes) 1 ER 7 Hits 1 Walk 7 K Gamescore: 67 Gamescore+: 67.8
Final Analysis: Well, the stat line looked good, but I was not impressed. My Gamescore+ calculation was right at his real Gamescore, but I still think Ross got luckier than the line would indicate. Miguel Cabrera had a liner caught on the Petco track in the 4th that would’ve been a homer in a lot of parks, and Ross got three dazzling defensive plays behind him. This could’ve been a lot worse, but I do credit him for only allowing one walk.
Including this start, Fangraphs has his average fastball velocity at 91.6 compared to 94.2 last year. It was up a tick here and there during this start topping out at 95, but when I saw him last year, he was consistently 94-96 and he was usually 91-93 yesterday. It’s early still, but that’s pretty substantial. Mixing the fastball with a really good slider, it’s a solid 1-2 punch. We only saw a few change-ups and that’s it for his arsenal. I’d like to see more pitches from a starter, and Ross able to work in that change-up a bit more.
So to those mechanics. I’ve never really liked his delivery even when it’s smoothed out, with a short stride and weird arm motion that doesn’t seem very textbook. Not that it matters if your delivery is “textbook”, but one hiccup and Ross gets messed up. He went out of his normal motion at times, and when a guy falls in and out of his mechanics in a start, I’m leery to trust him.
Another factor helping out Ross was only Victor Martinez hitting as a lefty in that Tigers order. Last year, Ross held righties to .199 vs. .251 to lefties. .206 to .290 in a small sample this year as well. Overall, I think if you can single out a start at home against a predominately right-handed line-up, Ross could be a good spot start. But that’s really picking and choosing, and I didn’t see enough in this start for me to grab him in 10 or 12ers. I’d sell high in deeper leagues if I could. Maybe he can get that delivery consistent, but I’m not going to be able to trust him as a sure-fire starter until I see it a few starts in a row.
JB’s Updated Top 100 SP
(rankings based on 12-team Roto – green for risers, red for fallers)
- Tough tough injury for Alex Cobb, who shoots down the list with his oblique injury. I’ll lean towards the 6 weeks out, which is quite a blow. “Tobias you blowhard!”
- So I guess I must admit I was wrong on Pineda, who had a lot of backing from you loyal commenters. I don’t put too much stock into the pine tar thing, but after this week’s start against the Cubs, I’m selling high with it likely a good one. He’ll have a microscope on him, but should be able to dominate anyway… Couldn’t ask for a better start to prove the haters wrong. Then in your sales pitch you can be like, “see he doesn’t need pine tar!” to a skeptical leaguemate.
- Drew Smyly is finally starting. Rejoice! Almost moved him down, which would’ve made me frowny.
- Man, Yordano Ventura is so friggin’ good. Remember when I ranked him higher than everywhere else? Andddddd, I moved him up.
- Andrew Cashner I heard had a good game this weekend. I won’t call you out hating commenter, but I think I’m looking pretty good with his rank. We’ll just call this commenter by his witsec name: John of the Blending In. Before you say how good Gray is doing, a 1.21 WHIP and a 0.95 ERA don’t jive. Still think he’s good, but no Cashner :).
- Chris Archer looked very solid and I’m regretting my original rank. I think he’s in store for a big year, and now is like the Rays #2. Sheesh.
- I want to move Kazmir up with his great start, but these triceps are annoying. Somebody show him those P90X exercises that had my triceps burning for days!
- Chris Tillman has started off strong proving me wrong, and looks really good. Forced to bump him up a tad.
- I got some hate for the Burnett ranking heading into the year, and he now owns a 10:14 K:BB rate. Ouch.
- Speaking of ouch, Matt Moore I think is destined for TJ and Mat Latos has a jacked up elbow on top of coming back from knee surgery. Not a good week for baseball Mat[t]s.
- I’m still not worried about Homer Bailey, and would buy low. His HR/FB rate through two starts is 100%. I doubt that’s sustainable! Has given up 11 line drives though – that needs to go down. It will help once he pitches to a team that isn’t the Cardinals.
- I’m sticking with my love for Porcello, but benching him this week against the Angels. Got shelled in both starts against them last year for a preposterous 28.80 ERA 4.40 WHIP. Hah! Deeper leagues can maybe buy low after that start if it’s poopy.
- Jason Hammel’s BABIP in two starts is .063. Just wanted to share that when I considered adding him in this week.
As always, let me know your thoughts on the rankings or on this Ross start and let’s look forward to a two-start Yordano this week!