While Ross recovers from TJ, Nats look within
At least for now, club thinks it has pieces to fill rotation spot
ANAHEIM -- Nationals right-hander Joe Ross underwent successful Tommy John surgery Wednesday morning in Texas to repair the tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm. The surgery was performed by Dr. Keith Meister.
Ross, 24, has battled a few injuries during his young career, but this is his first major operation.
"I think he's handled it well," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said prior to Wednesday's 7-0 loss to the Angels. "You don't know what's going on internally, because Joe doesn't say a whole bunch and he's not very expressive unless he's happy. That first operation is always the toughest because you're always wondering how it's going to turn out."
The Nationals did not offer a timetable for Ross' return, although typical recovery time for Tommy John surgery ranges from 12-18 months, which leaves the team looking to replace him in the rotation through most of or all of next season. The answer will almost certainly come from within the organization, however, as a source told MLB.com that the Nats are comfortable with their internal options and are not aggressively looking to add a starting pitcher before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
That comfort also comes on the heels of a stellar start from right-hander Edwin Jackson during Tuesday night's 4-3 victory against the Angels. Jackson, who had not pitched for the Nationals since 2012 and was signed to a Minor League deal last month, capitalized on his opportunity with seven strong innings in which he allowed two runs on three hits. Jackson was efficient at 91 pitches and struck out three batters but did not issue a walk.
After his strong return to the club, he received a vote of confidence from Baker that he would receive another start.
"Oh yeah, he threw the ball well," Baker said Tuesday. "I don't think that's a question."
How strong of a grip Jackson has on the No. 5 spot in the rotation is unclear, but the job is his for now. Should Jackson falter, the Nationals have a few other options.
Right-hander Erick Fedde, the team's No. 2 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, has rejoined the Triple-A Syracuse rotation after a stint in the bullpen earlier this season. He threw five innings of two-run ball Wednesday night, with three strikeouts and no walks.
Right-hander Jacob Turner cleared waivers Wednesday after he was designated for assignment by the Nationals the day prior, and he accepted an assignment to Syracuse, where he is likely to start. The Nationals like his "stuff" and are happy to keep him in the organization if he can put it all together. They also have right-handed prospects A.J. Cole and Austin Voth, although they have struggled this season in the Minors.
Starting pitching is always a priority for the Nationals, and general manager Mike Rizzo is always willing to strike a deal that makes sense. But for now, the Nationals are content with their in-house options.