Thearon W. Henderson
Robbie Ross and his bullpen mates got a lot of work in over the weekend and the team used seven pitchers Sunday heading into Monday's doubleheader.
If you've ever come across a Texas Rangers fan who doesn't like Robbie Ross, we'd like to hear from you. He's just a likeable guy that made the roster surprisingly in 2012 and took baseball by storm as one of the game's best middle relievers from the left side.
The beginning of 2013 seemed to even exceed his stellar rookie season in 2012. Through the end of May, Ross put up a 0.37 ERA — darn near unhittable.
Then, things started getting sketchy for Ross, especially against left-handed hitters, which is alarming when your main job on the roster is to get left-handed hitters out.
By the end of June, Ross' ERA had climbed to the high 1.00s. Now, in mid-August, it sits at 2.82 and his inability to get left-handed hitters out has come to an all-time high. On Sunday, Ross allowed an inherited runner to score against a left-handed hitter for Seattle. On Monday, he did the same in mop-up duty in a blowout win over the Houston Astros, again to a lefty.
Ross has now allowed seven of his past 14 inherited runners this season to score. In his last 29 matchups with a left-handed hitter, they have 14 hits and three home runs. This is a huge problem when he's one of two lefties in the Rangers' bullpen.
"It's frustrating. Those are the guys I have to get out," Ross told ESPNDallas.com of his matchups with lefties. "I'm not getting them out consistently. That's the way it goes sometimes. I have to battle through it."
Ross was overworked through the first half of the season, as was much of the team's bullpen. It may not be the sole reason for Ross' struggles, but it likely has something to do with it.
So what's the solution? Letting Ross continue to get his head bashed in at the big-league level while "figuring it out" isn't going to be good for the youngster's confidence. And something clearly needs to be figured out. The Rangers' move to call up Travis Blackley for Tuesday's spot start is the perfect opportunity to let Ross go back to Triple-A Round Rock for a bit, hopefully just a short time, and see if he can get things figured out. Then you could always call him back up when rosters expand on Sept. 1. But if that's the plan, it needs to happen soon since the minor-league season wraps up this month.