WASHINGTON — Joe Ross made his second start of the year for the Nationals Tuesday evening, allowing five runs over 4.2 innings with two walks and two strikeouts in a 15-12 slugfest in Colorado.
That follows his season debut one week ago, in which Ross went a full seven innings, allowing only three runs while striking out seven batters and walking one in a lopsided 14-4 victory in Atlanta.
Should there be concern over Ross’ endurance given the discrepancy between the two outings, or is his latest start just another byproduct of a wacky Coors Field environment?
During Mike Rizzo’s weekly appearance with The Sports Junkies Wednesday morning, the Nats GM and President of Baseball Operations was asked to weigh in on the 23-year-old’s first starts in 2017 as part of the Burke & Herbert Bank Fan Question of the Week.
Joe Ross’ velocity was sitting at high-90s on his fastball for most of his last start. Is Joe still building up his endurance? Any concerns on that moving forward? — Chuck in D.C.
“I’ve never seen Joe Ross’ velocity in the high 90s. Ever,” Rizzo quipped. “He’s usually 90-to-94. He can touch  now and then. Last night he was touching 92, but as the game progressed, he was 88-to-90, 91.”
“There’s nothing to be concerned about other than he’s pitching in 33-degree weather,” he said. “He probably wasn’t as loose as he will be when it’s 85 degrees. He’s not a big velocity dependent pitcher, he’s a sinker/slider guy, and again, sinker/slider guys in Colorado, the ball often doesn’t move vertically very well and you have to pay the price for that.”
The Rockies hit four home runs Tuesday — two off of Ross, and one apiece off of Joe Blanton and Shawn Kelley, respectively — three of which were solo shots. Charlie Blackmon hit a two-run homer off of Blanton in the eighth inning
“The good thing I will say about all of our pitchers last night, and theirs, really, was you can’t walk people in Colorado,” Rizzo said, “because we gave up a lot of solo home runs last night and you have a chance to win when you give up solo home runs in Colorado.”