Player Profile: Robbie Ross

Player Profile: Robbie Ross

Credit: Getty Images

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 26: Robbie Ross #46 of the Texas Rangers throws against the Los Angeles Angels in the 6th inning at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 26, 2013 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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by EDDIE MIDDLEBROOK

WFAA Sports

Posted on January 30, 2014 at 6:30 AM

Updated Thursday, Jan 30 at 12:33 AM

2013 Stats: 4-2, 3.03 ERA, 62.1 IP, 58 Ks and 136 ERA+

Salary: $500K (Arbitration eligible in 2015, free agent in 2018)

Each week, we will look at key players on the Texas Rangers 25-man roster, and this time we look at a pitcher who wants to try again at a starting rotation spot, Robbie Ross.

Year in Review: Ross followed up his superb 2012 rookie campaign with a solid 2013 season. His ERA+ dropped from 198 to 136, but his strikeouts to walks ratio went from 2.04 to 3.05. Ross also seemed to struggle in the second half of the season (3.92 ERA) after a first half of the season that was comparable to his rookie year (2.59 ERA). In 2012, Ross also struggled in the second half (5.60 ERA) after being exceptional in the first half (0.95). One glaring difference between 2012 and 2103 for Robbie was his splits:

2012

vs. RHB .235/.316/.316

vs. LHB .228/.286/.327

2013

vs. RHB .209/.271/.248

vs. LHB .344/.416/.544

Ross was unable to get left-handed batters out in 2013 with the same authority as he did in 2012. Despite his struggles, Ross was elite in 2013 at keeping the ball on the ground as he did so 45.4% of the time. Ryan Morrison of SBNation suggests that relievers inducing a high percentage of groundballs are undervalued. Check out his article to learn more about Robbie Ross and others.

Career: We’ve established that Ross is undervalued, yet has been worth over three wins as reliever in his short career. He’s a guy that relies heavily on his four-seam fastball, yet offsets hitters with his slider. Ross’ 136 ERA+ is well above league average, yet placed him fifth among Rangers’ relievers in 2013:

Cotts 375

Nathan 297

Scheppers 220

Frasor 161

Ross 136

2014 season: Once again, Ross will go into Spring Training competing for a starting job. At last Friday’s awards banquet, Ross spoke about his desire to start:

"I’ve always wanted to be a starter," Ross said. "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 I as a starter that would be great, but I also like it as a reliever."

Ross spent the offseason preparing as a starter as he made four starts for Toros del Este of the Dominican League. He knows if he is going to be a viable starter in the big leagues, the changeup, curve and two-seam fastball will have to develop:

"When I was down there that was mostly what I was looking forward to doing is kind of working with off-speed stuff," he said. "That was kind of a good thing and also getting my feel or throwing my fastball again and using it in different counts setting up my off-speed stuff. Definitely getting used to that was a good experience while I was there too."

Oliver Projections on Fangraphs predicts that Ross will make seven starts in 2014. He’s projected to pitch 90 innings and have a 3.41 ERA.

There is no question that Ross has the ability or the mental fortitude to be a starter, but he will have to beat out Alexi Ogando, possibly Tanner Scheppers and others.

Eddie Middlebrook is a staff writer for Paranoid Fan, covering MLB and college football. Back in 2010, Eddie wrote for Fox Sports Southwest covering the Texas Rangers, Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks and the Big 12. In 2012, he began writing for Shutdown Inning where he eventually became Vice President of Media. You can email Eddie at eddie@paranoidfan.com  or catch him on Twitter @emiddlebrook.

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