While sitting at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Tuesday night when Robbie Ross came in to pitch the ninth inning in a game the Rangers trailed 4-2, I immediately turned to my father-in-law and asked him why Ross was pitching in a two-run game.
Then, I rephrased the question to myself: "Why is Robbie Ross pitching in a game, like period?"
It was a valid question, given how badly Ross has performed lately.
If you remember, his last performance came in Oakland last week and gave up four runs on four straight hits without recording a single out, resulting in an ERA of "*.**," meaning "infinite."
That trend continued on Tuesday when he led off the ninth inning by walking the Pirates' leadoff man on four straight balls before quickly getting the hook from manager Ron Washington.
Ross, whose ERA is now 3.38, nearly two full runs higher than it was when the calendar flipped to July. It was clear that Ross was overworked early in the season, and that most likely led to some fatigue, but fatigue shouldn't be an issue right now as Ross has been used sparingly.
We suggested back in July and August the idea of either sending Ross down to get his head right or coming up with an injury to do the same thing and give him innings in the minors to get his confidence back.
Washington kept throwing Ross out there, in lesser and lesser leverage situations, and Ross kept failing, and on Tuesday night he failed miserably again and got the quick hook.
The question with Ross isn't when he'll get right now, the question seems to be if he'll ever pitch in another game with the Rangers. At this point, he simply can't be trusted and Washington seemed to realize that on Tuesday night.
The issue comes when the postseason hits, if the Rangers make it, and how the roster will look. The only reliable lefty in the Rangers' bullpen is Neal Cotts, and it could be that he'll be the only lefty in the pen on the postseason roster, with the possible exception of Travis Blackley.
But at this point, it seems that unless Ross has some miraculous, overnight rediscovery of his stuff that he won't be on the postseason roster. That's a shame.