Jul 18, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers pitcher Robbie Ross (46) throws a pitch in the seventh inning of the game against the Oakland Athletics at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Oakland won 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Robbie Ross to compete for Rangers’ rotation

It can be easy to forget that Robbie Ross was, and can still be, a starting pitcher.

After emerging as a surprise out of Spring Training for Texas in 2012, Ross became a premier piece in Ron Washington’s bullpen. His first six decisions were all victories. His ERA before the All-Star Break was an astounding 0.95. Opponents were only hitting .204 against him, and he had just better than a two-to-one groundball to flyball ratio. He hit a wall after the All-Star break, but nobody really faulted him for it since it was his first full season at the Major League level. Pitching in 58 games in a role you’re not familiar with in your first full big league season can be a lot for a rookie. His efforts were admirable.

Ross came back the next season with the same fire and determination. He was stretched out as a starter during Spring Training last season, but was deemed too valuable a piece out of the bullpen to take him out of it, and the fifth starter job went to Nick Tepesch(only after Martin Perez was drilled by a comebacker). Ross again did great work out of the ‘pen, although his numbers were worse than his rookie year. He went 4-2 in 2013 with an ERA of 3.03 in 65 games. Stamina wasn’t the problem last year. Ross had unpredictable problems against left handed hitting after the All-Star break and saw his workload go down, not because of exhaustion, but because of ineffectiveness.

Right-handed hitters hit only .211 off of Robbie in 2013. His groundball to flyball ratio was just under two, and his ERA against righties was 1.96.

Left-handed hitters hit .341 off of Ross. His groundball to flyball ratio for righties was 0.71, and his ERA was an astronomical 5.14.

This off-season, though, Robbie Ross intends on improving every aspect of his game in order to land a starting rotation spot. With two years of Major League ball under his belt, Ross went to winter ball. He got himself stretched out as a starter and worked on his offspeed pitches as a way to be more effective against left-handed hitting. After a bit of a rough start, Ross calmed down allowing just eight hits and two runs over his final three starts. He was in attendance at the team’s annual awards banquet and Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas found that Ross is sure that he’s ready to be a starter.

I’ve always wanted to be a starter. That’s been my goal ever since I was younger and when I got into the big leagues, it was like at some point I’d like to start. I like being in the big leagues. Definitely if I could do it as a starter that would be great but I also like it as a reliever.

In three years as a starter in the Minor Leagues, Ross was a career 26-20 pitcher with a 2.88 ERA over 68 starts. It does appear that the 24-year old lefty is ready to step up for his team.

Tags: Texas Rangers