Ross dominates Padres, questions about innings limit remain

by Jacob Emert |

WASHINGTON — For right-handed starter Joe Ross, the script on Thursday night in Washington’s 4-2 win was pretty much the same as the outing before that.

First, it was the the dominant performance. This one lasted six innings and 77 pitches against the Padres, as Ross allowed only one hit — a bunt single in the fourth — and one unearned run. He struck out seven.

“He’s got really good stuff, good composure, doesn’t show much emotion on the mound,” first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “He goes out there with a plan and executes. It’s been fun to watch. We’ve enjoyed watching him kind of grow up and become a pitcher at this level. He’s got a pretty high ceiling.”

Then, there were the questions — mainly unanswered — about Ross’ innings limit.

Manager Matt Williams has openly said that Ross’ innings will be closely monitored and limited this season, a result of the 22-year-old throwing in higher volume than he has in the past. But, specifics have been held close to the chest.

“The fact that we … could get him out of there after the sixth, it was good for him,” Williams said. “It’ll just help him stretch through his next starts.”

“Well, we’ll see. We’ll see,” Williams said, when asked if Ross’ 2015 campaign is nearing the end. “Tonight’s an indication that he’s still feeling OK. Again, what did he have, [77] pitches tonight. If we can limit that and get ourselves in a position to win ballgames, then we want to try to do that. Again, each game will dictate what we can and can’t do.”

In the meantime, as the Nationals continue to fight for their life in an uphill race for the National League East, Ross’ job is just to keep on pitching well.

In the 11 starts that have made up his rookie season, Ross has thrown 66 2/3 innings. He’s allowed 56 hits and 11 walks, while striking out 65 and posting a 3.24 ERA. In his last two starts, he has combined for 13 innings, seven hits and one earned run.

“My fastball I was throwing inside,” Ross said of his most recent outing. “Slider was good. I only threw a few changeups. But my command got better as the game went along. Just early counts where the ball was put in play, that definitely helped with the pitch count and stuff like that.”

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