There has been a lot of optimism from the San Diego Padres organization and fans alike heading into the 2014 season in regards to starting pitcher Tyson Ross. A 3.17 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 125 innings from a pitcher will do that to you. Those were Ross’ 2013 numbers in 16 games started for the Padres, and those numbers are the basis for all the excitement surrounding the 26-year-old pitcher.
Ross would be called upon for his first start on the 2014 season in the final game of a three game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Ross, who struggled a bit in the spring, carried those struggles into the first inning when he allowed a lead-off single to Carl Crawford. Ross would then commit a throwing error on an attempt to throw out Yasiel Puig at first in the next at bat, leaving two on with no outs in the inning.
Those two wouldn’t be on for long as Hanley Ramirez would then step to the plate and lace a double into left field, scoring them both. Ross would then allow a run scoring single to Adrian Gonzalez before escaping the inning with a strikeout followed by a double play with the Padres down 3-0 early.
Ross would pitch some ugly but scoreless frames for the next couple of innings where he just plain looked uncomfortable and struggled to remain in the strike-zone. It became obvious that his slider, which is his bread and butter pitch, wasn’t going to be an option this game, and once he accepted that fact his fortunes seemed to turn around.
After finding some success with the two-seam fastball, Ross seemed to really begin settle down in the third and fourth innings before allowing one more run in the fifth, afterwards exiting with a pitch count of 100. He went from looking disoriented to almost dominant after getting in a grove and relying primarily on his two-seamer.
Unfortunately, after throwing over 50 pitches in the first two innings, Ross didn’t leave any bullets for himself once he finally got into a groove. To see Ross so out of sorts early on — his final stat-line of five innings pitched with three earned runs and seven strikeouts — seems almost unbelievable.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but Ross proved something to me in the match-up. First he proved that he can be every bit the dominating pitcher that most expect him to be. Secondly, and in my opinion most importantly, he proved that he can battle through adversity and make difference making adjustments in the heat of a stressful situation.
A young pitcher having those qualities as a part of his makeup is usually headed for a successful career, and after watching Ross on the mound Wednesday, I think it’s safe to say that he is definitely on that path.