Over the last month, seven Pitchers have been competing for the 5th and final spot in San Diego’s Starting Rotation. Incredibly, the number could have been as high as eight, but Andrew Cashner was sidelined due to a thumb injury in December and is only now getting back to full strength.
Last week, Robert shared his thoughts on the current competition, and he believed that Anthony Bass was primed to win the job over the large field competing for the job against him in the forms of Tim Stauffer, Freddy Garcia, Sean O’Sullivan, Robbie Erlin, Casey Kelly, and Tyson Ross.
Although I believe that Bass has enjoyed a decent Spring, do not count out Ross in the race for the 5th spot over the next two weeks. In fact, Ross has played well enough as of late to earn some consideration to win the final spot in San Diego’s Starting Rotation once Spring Training ends.
An unheralded trade acquisition this past Winter, Ross came to San Diego from Oakland coming off of a dreadful 2012 season with the Athletics. The Right-Hander posted a 2-11 record, a 6.50 ERA, and only 46 Strikeouts over 73.1 Innings Pitched. Although Tyson came back strong in Triple-A after he was demoted (6-2, 2.99 ERA, 64 K’s over 78.1 IP), the A’s believed that he was expendable and the soon to be 26 year-old Pitcher was sent to the Padres (along with A.J. Kirby Jones) in exchange for Left-Handed Starter Andrew Werner and Utility Infielder Andy Parrino.
Spring Training did not start off very well for Tyson though, and he was shelled in his first two outings with the Padres. Overall, Ross went 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA, surrendered 5 Runs in only 5.0 Innings Pitched, and allowed hitters to bat .318 against him. Since the month of March began though, Ross has really stepped up his game, and been nothing short of terrific for the Friars.
In fact, Ross has not allowed a single Run during his three outings in the month of March over a total of 11.1 Innings. In 3 outings (2 Starts), Tyson threw 3.0 scoreless Innings versus Los Angeles, 3.0 scoreless Innings against his former team Oakland, and threw 5.1 Innings of shut-out ball against Arizona on Saturday afternoon! Even more impressive has been the fact that Ross has held opposing hitters to a .162 Batting Average over said span.
Even after his dreadful February outings, Ross still ranks among the team leaders in numerous statistical categories this Spring. Not only is Tyson leading the Friars in Wins (3), he is also leading all of San Diego’s Pitchers in Innings Pitched (16.1) and Strikeouts (13), and ranks third behind O’Sullivan and Jason Marquis amongst all Starters in E.R.A. (2.76).
After Ross’ last start, Friar Manager Bud Black had this to say to Padres.com Beat Writer Corey Brock about his improving Starter:
I thought he threw the ball well. Again, I thought we saw his fastball command improve and a good slider,…He’s doing his part to forge his way onto our roster.
Whether Black and Pitching Coach Darren Balsley intend to use Ross as a Starter or in some type of Long Relief role should be an interesting thing to watch for over the next two weeks. Ross was used in Long Relief last year with Oakland, so he could come in handy as an emergency 6th Starter/Long Relief specialist to help the Rotation if injuries or poor play occur.
As it stands now, I believe that Bass, O’Sullivan, and Ross are the three front-runners for the starting gig, and the race should come down to the final two weeks. I for one will be definitely interested to see who emerges as the Friars’ 5th Starter by the time Opening Day rolls around, because the job is still probably up in the air right now after Ross’ strong push over his last three outings.
Stats Courtesy of: Baseball Reference