Injuries temporarily derailed Ross’s career, and he has fairly been experimenting with his repertoire during the rehab process. Sitting around 7% usage his entire career, Ross’s CH% spiked to 21.6% in 2018 only to return to its normal 7.6% last year. While being hit hard (88.4 mph EV, .468 wOBA), it reached career highs in K% (22.7%) and Whiff% (26.3%).
Ross introduced a curveball in 2019, and it has a chance to redefine his repertoire. From July on, he threw it more than 10% of the time while striking out more than 40% of opposing hitters. Definitely a pitch to watch in 2020.
Ross added velocity on his four-seamer and threw it more that ever before (63% of the time). This resulted in a huge spike in strikeouts and more weak contact, line drives turning to pop-ups and a 14.5 IFFB% compared to 8.2% in 2017 and 4.3% in 2018.
Everyone will remember the filthy slider that Ross threw to Carlos Correa on 0-2 in Game 5 of the World Series, it painted the corner and was disgustingly called a ball. Correa punished him by hitting a home run on the next pitch. However, despite Ross’ slider being legit, his command is just not there. The pitch did hold a 4.7 wSI last season.
Ross featured the fastball more in his brief stint in 2018 than he did in his entire career leading up to that point. However, judging by the results, he should have kept the pitch under wraps. Hitters destroyed the pitch with a 1.236 OPS and .385 ISO. The pitch has plenty of movement, but hitters crushed it for line drives and fly balls, generating a -2.2 pVal. It was not an effective pitch at all in 2018.
The sinker showed huge improvements in 2018 for Ross. Using the pitch later in counts, it posted career-high walk and strikeout rates with a swinging-strike rate at 9.7%. Ross lost an inch and a half of vertical movement but found the zone more often. The contact hitters made was weak, trading line drives for weak pop-ups. Mixing in the pitch instead of throwing it exclusively caught hitters more off-guard, as hitters went from hitting .355 and .349 in 2016 and 2017, to only .238 last season.
The slider posted a negative pVal for the first time in Ross’ career in 2018. From when the pitch was amazing back in 2016, Ross gained about 2 inches of horizontal and vertical movement on the pitch but saw his swinging-strike rate plummet 6%. It has always been his strikeout pitch, but the strikeout rate dropped more than 20% to 16.7%. Hitters didn’t make good contact on the pitch, hitting only .167; they just didn’t swing as often at the pitch.
Ross mixed in the changeup more as his fourth offering in 2018, and it went as well as it had in any other seaso: not great. After losing a few inches of drop, opposing hitters hit .313/.353/.438 despite throwing the pitch mainly out of the zone. He did not allow a home run with the pitch for the second consecutive season but allowed a line drives 40% of the time. With only a 5 mph difference in this and the fastball, it is a pitch hitters have jumped all over. There is a reason this is his fourth offering.