Joe Ortiz is back up with the club and stands to be a nice option to lean on. He has looked ok in his two appearances since being called up, allowing 1 hit, 1 run, and no walks in 2 innings (7 batters faced). I’d be willing to keep giving him chances to come in and he presents a good chance for Ross, and Cotts even, to get some rest, which would let Ross regroup mentally and get back on track.
The other option available is Michael Kirkman. I’ll start by saying that it is good to see him back in action; I can’t imagine going through cancer treatments and then doing everything possible to return to baseball as soon as I can to help a contending team. He started his rehab assignment in Round Rock on August 2, and had some trouble getting back into a good groove. He gave up a lot of hits and had trouble with walks in 6 outings. We have yet to see him at this point, but it’s fair to assume that he will probably be used in blow out situations and not much else this season.
With the tentative nature of the 5th starter spot, it would stand to reason that Travis Blackley will not see extended innings (3, maybe 4 at the max, at this point). That being said, he still has a lot to offer and an important role to play. I trust him to be able to get through an inning, possibly two, with little damage being done. He would be my pick to fill in for Ross if the overall situation calls for Ross to be replaced further into September and perhaps into October. I’d love to see Ross get back into a groove and go strong, but it’s nice to have a couple of extra options as well.