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Robbie Ross, 2014 Texas Rangers
Robbie Ross really could've been used in Monday's Opening Day loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. Instead of Pedro Figueroa, the Rangers could've used Ross to give them a few innings after Tanner Scheppers' first start fell flat and the Rangers' offense temporarily bailed him out.
Instead, Ross was preparing for his first start, which will come Wednesday night to close out a three-game series against the Phillies before the Rangers hit the road for a six-game trip to Tampa and Boston.
Ross was spectacular this spring, allowing just one run in his last 16 2/3 innings of work, basically forcing the Rangers to make Ross a starter, at least early on, after it was initially thought that just one of the bullpen duo of Ross and Scheppers would crack the rotation.
Ross has been standout reliever for the past two seasons, and in order to keep his spot in the rotation, he's going to have to do a better job of retiring lefties than he did a season ago. A lefty himself, left-handed hitters should have some trouble with Ross, but last year they didn't, hitting .341 with a .412 on-base percentage — some really upside down numbers in terms of baseball logic.
At one point last season, Ross went from a trusted bullpen piece to a guy manager Ron Washington hesitated to go to in any kind of leverage situation whatsoever.
Tonight's a big step in the career path of Ross, as it's assumed that when all the Rangers' starting pitching reinforcements come, and if they all work out, at least one of Scheppers/Ross will return to the bullpen. He's hoping for a better first start than his buddy had on Monday.