Rangers Gamble to Strengthen Rotation
Confirmation came late Friday afternoon that the Rangers have agreed to a deal with former Padres pitcher, Tyson Ross. A one year deal for six million, it is a low risk move that could have high rewards. With Ross having missed all but one start of the entire 2016 season, however, it is still a gamble.
In his one start in 2016, Ross gave up seven runs in 5.1 innings on opening day. He would miss the rest of the season with shoulder soreness. He may have returned in the latter part of the year, had an ankle injury not derailed his rehab. On October 12, at the advice of his doctors, Ross elected to have Thoracic Outlet Surgery. The hope is to alleviate some of the contributing factors to the shoulder problems incurred in 2016. Recovery and rehab could put Spring Training in jeopardy, but hope remains he will be ready for opening day.
At 6’6″ the right-hander has unusual mechanics on the mound. His fastball is solid, with mid to late 90’s speed. His best pitch however, is his slider. Once arriving in San Diego, Ross consciously made an effort to throw his best pitch more. Consistently dropping it down and away to both sides of the plate, Ross averaged better than 8.9 k/9 the last four seasons. A legit out pitch in 2014, Fangraphs charted his slider as the fifth most effective in baseball, and fifteenth of any pitch in the game. That year would make Tyson Ross an All-Star for the first time. He would follow that campaign with a strong 2015, pitching to a 2.98 FIP, logging 196 innings, and a 9.7 k/9. He would be the 2016 Opening Day starter for the Padres, the aforementioned only appearance of last year.
The reliance on his slider, combined with his mechanics and recent injury history is of some concern going forward. The risk of him missing playing time is real. This was painfully evident when the Padres shockingly non-tendered him, and has been exacerbated by his slow moving market. The fact that a pitcher with his talent and upside was available on a one year deal, has buyer-beware hanging off his right arm.
It’s a big if, but if the Rangers are getting anywhere close to the pitcher the Padres enjoyed the last few years, Ross becomes an impact addition to the rotation. He slides into your number three spot, forcing Perez to four, and giving you depth at the back end. A good Tyson Ross gives you a formidable playoff rotation, with Hamels and Yu still at the top. With the payroll not soon to rise, this is a shrewd move full of optimism for a team trying to compete for a third straight division title, in the most formidable AL West to date.