2014 Fantasy Baseball Sleeper: Robbie Ross
With Derek Holland expected to be sidelined until midseason after undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee and no big moves made so far this offseason, the Texas Rangers are likely to look in-house for options to fill out their starting rotation in 2014. Yu Darvish and Martin Perez are locks to start the season in the Rangers’ rotation, but after that there are multiple pitchers (Alexi Ogando, Matt Harrison, Tanner Scheppers, Colby Lewis, etc.) that may get a chance to compete for the remaining spots during spring training.
Robbie Ross has been mentioned as a starting rotation candidate for Texas since early in the offseason, and he started games in the Dominican Winter League in an effort to give himself the best chance to earn a spot. Through two major league seasons he has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen for the Rangers, posting a 2.62 ERA over 123 appearances along with a 7.4 K/9 and a 3.0 BB/9, but Ross started 68 games over three minor league seasons and had success in that role (2.88 ERA).
Ross was also a starting rotation candidate last spring, but he was kept in the bullpen and finished 4-2 with a 3.03 ERA in 65 games (62.1 innings). His ERA went up from just 2.22 in 2012, which was driven by correction in his ground ball rate (45.4 percent, down from an unsustainable 62.4 percent in 2012) and worse luck (.326 BABIP; .274 in 2012), but Ross’ K/9 rate (8.4), BB/9 rate (2.7) and K/BB ratio (3.05) last season were all improvements over 2012 (6.5 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and a 2.04 K/BB ratio).
Ross’ fantasy value for this season will go one way or the other based on whether he is in the Rangers’ starting rotation or not. If he earns a spot during the spring he has appeal in AL-only and deep mixed leagues while Holland is out, with a chance to sustain some value after that. But if Ross is back in the bullpen to start the 2014 season and remains there, he does not have a clear path to closing games and his value would be limited to leagues that count holds (15 in 2013).