Ross is expected to be a part of the Nationals' rotation in 2021, Jesse Dougherty of The Washington Post reports. The 27-year-old righty has been primarily a starter in his big-league career, though he started just nine games while appearing out of the bullpen in 18 more during his most recent campaign. That came back in 2019, as he opted out of last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A rotation role gives Ross a path to fantasy relevance, though he hasn't posted an ERA below 5.00 since 2016 and has a long history of injury problems, so that relevance may be limited to deeper formats.
Ross agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Nationals, avoiding arbitration, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. He opted out of the 2020 season, so his arm should be as fresh as ever when he reports to spring training. Ross is a bit of a forgotten man, but he should enter camp as a favorite to break camp in the rotation.
Ross is expected to opt out of joining the Nationals for the 2020 season, sources tell Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic. Ross is the second known player who is expected to forgo playing in 2020 due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic after Diamondbacks pitcher Mike Leake announced his intentions earlier Monday. As a result, Ross will forgo his $1.5 million salary for 2020 before heading into his final year of salary arbitration in 2021. Ross had been a leading candidate for the fifth spot in the Nationals' rotation, but his decision to sit out the season could lead to more starting opportunities for Austin Voth and Erick Fedde.
Ross remains in the mix to win the No. 5 starter role when the regular season finally begins. The right-hander was considered the favorite coming into camp due to having more big-league experience, and Ross didn't hurt his chances by posting a 2.45 ERA and 1.09 WHIP through 7.1 innings before MLB was put on pause. His 3:4 K:BB was a little shaky, although three of the walks came in one outing, and his main competition also pitched well -- Austin Voth put together a 1.29 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 6:1 K:BB through seven innings, and Erick Fedde had a 2.45 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 7:4 K:BB in 7.1 frames. If the regular-season schedule ends up featuring fewer off days and more doubleheaders, however, all three pitchers could end up seeing significant workloads for the Nats, either in the rotation or in long relief.
Ross gave up two runs on three hits and three walks over 2.1 innings while striking out one in Saturday's split-squad game against the Marlins. The right-hander walked Jesus Aguilar and Isan Diaz on eight straight balls in the first inning but was able to escape the jam. Ross then walked Jonathan Villar to kick off the third and start a two-run Marlins rally that chased him from the game after 57 pitches (37 strikes). Ross was touching the mid-90s with his fastball in the outing, per Jessica Camerato of MLB.com, and felt he was able to make a mechanical adjustment after the first frame. The 26-year-old has a solid 2.45 ERA and 1.09 WHIP through 7.1 spring innings, but his 3:4 K:BB is a little worrisome. With Austin Voth (1.29 ERA, 6:1 K:BB through seven IP) and Erick Fedde (4.50 ERA, 4:2 K:BB through four IP) also delivering solid performances so far, the battle for the No. 5 spot in the Nats' rotation remains undecided.
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