Lefty Robbie Ross hasn’t earned a win since April 15. Since then, the converted reliever has a 6.97 ERA in six starts, opponents are hitting .341 against him, and the Rangers haven’t won a game in which he appeared.
Ross allowed just one run Saturday, but walked four Blue Jays and only lasted 4.1 innings on 91 pitches before being pulled in favor of Shawn Tolleson.
“I got a little too picky,” Ross said. “I was trying to be too fine, trying to throw too many pitches instead of just going after hitters and getting quick outs.”
The transition to the starting rotation has taken longer than planned with Ross. Manager Ron Washington said it has been an adjustment for Ross switching from the mentality of only needing a few outs as a reliever to a goal of 27 outs as a starter.
“There’s a learning curve there. He’s trying hard, he’s just not having the results,” he said. “But the thing I like about him is he’s being aggressive and he’s competing.”
“You obviously want to go out there every time and throw up a zero and go seven or eight innings, but it’s not always that case,” Ross said. “The past few outings have been tough, but it’s a growing process. I want to keep grinding and battling and helping the team.”
Wash said Ross’s biggest struggles have come with two outs. After he gets the second out of an inning, Ross needs to not change anything, he said. Statistics would suggest that situations with one out in an inning have given Ross the most trouble. In one-out situations, opponents are hitting .343 against him and he has issued nine walks.
With Ross’s struggles, no matter the number of outs in an inning, the Rangers are faced with a decision on his future with the pitching staff. He could be moved back to the bullpen, where he pitched the last two years with Texas, but the injuries to the starting rotation could necessitate a long-term starting role.
“We haven’t had a discussion about that,” Washington said. “I don’t think talking negatively about whether he’s going to be in the rotation is going to help.”
“We know he can go to the bullpen, but there hasn’t been any discussion about it. I’m not going to speculate on whether he’s coming out of the rotation,” he said.
With an off-day Monday, Washington acknowledged that some roster adjustments are possible.
Scheppers close to rehab assignment
Rangers hurler Tanner Scheppers will throw live batting practice one more time before starting a rehab assignment soon, Washington said. That live BP session could come before the team leaves for its next road trip, which starts Thursday in Detroit.
Scheppers was the team’s Opening Day starter and made four starts early in the season before heading to the disabled list with elbow inflammation.
Also a converted reliever, Scheppers’s future on the staff will become apparent soon.
“When we set up his rehab schedule it’ll tell you what he’s going to do,” Washington said.
The decision, of course, will be whether to insert Scheppers back into the starting rotation where he was very ineffective, or to put him back in the bullpen where he has found success in recent years and where he earned a nomination as a “Final Vote” candidate for the 2013 All-Star Game.
“It’s a big decision,” Wash said. “But that’s what we do. We make big decisions.”
Ogando will avoid DL
Alexi Ogando was hit in the right palm by a line drive Saturday, but will avoid a stint on the disabled list. The team will probably avoid using Ogando Sunday, but the plan is for him to be available Tuesday.
Washington said there is no swelling in Ogando’s hand.
The lanky right-hander has a 7.64 ERA in 22 relief appearances this season. Washington said location has been Ogando’s biggest issue.
“The velocity is there, the sharpness is there on the slider. He’s falling behind hitters, he has to come in the zone,” he said. “I think the normal things pitchers go through when they’re struggling a little bit.”