Heading into the 2016 season at age 29, Tyson Ross was expected to further cement his role as the ace in the San Diego Padres rotation. Trade rumors regarding him swirled the previous summer and winter, but A.J. Preller never received an offer for him in which he thought the return would be “fair value”.
Alas, he remained a Friar. Heading into Opening Day, Ross and the Padres were hoping that he would build further on his excellence during the two previous seasons. Well, that did not exactly happen. Ross’s Opening Day start went only 5.1 innings, as he gave up nine hits, two home runs, and seven earned runs in what ended up being one of, if not the worst, Opening Day losses in Padres history.
It was pretty evident that Ross was not 100% in his start. A few days later, Ross was diagnosed with right shoulder inflammation.
He has not pitched since.
Ever since the diagnosis, it has been a major battle for Ross to get back on the mound. An All-Star break rehab assignment was the initial goal, but that got delayed when Ross sprained his ankle while doing exercises in his hotel room in Los Angeles.
However, at last, it appears that Tyson Ross is close to returning to the mound in a Padres uniform. He threw live batting practice off the mound in Tampa Bay on August 16th. Just recently, he was able to throw 40 pitches in another live BP against batters for the first time. Adam Rosales, Brett Wallace, and Jabari Blash all took hacks against Ross. It was reported that his fastball sat 93-94 MPH, and he whipped in a few sliders as well.
Not surprisingly, Rosales had great things to say about Ross:
“His slider looked really good – really sharp and late,” Rosales said. “His toughest pitch was the sinker away. It was starting off the plate and sinking back over. It seemed like he was locating and controlling it perfectly.
“He looked ready to me. That’s probably the toughest pitcher I’ve faced all year.”
With all due respect to Rosales, the more important thing is that Ross came out of his live BP feeling great, with no immediate discomfort whatsoever. It is very likely that Tyson Ross will make starts on the big league squad, starting in the next few weeks.
It was announced Tuesday by the team that he will pitch a rehab start for the Lake Elsinore Storm on Thursday August 25 in Rancho Cucamonga against the Quakes the Dodgers Single-A team.
We are close to a Tyson Ross comeback.
No matter what Tyson does in his four or five starts, if he can stay healthy those starts will be a confidence boost for Ross heading into what may be an interesting 2016 offseason, in which he is in his last year of arbitration before free agency.
The Padres have a decision to make this offseason with Tyson Ross. The standard thing to do would be to just go through with the arbitration process, in which they would likely be able to settle on something around the $9.625MM salary he earned this season. This would allow Ross to rebuild some of the value he lost this year, and, barring his health, he would likely be traded at the deadline. Or…..
A.J. Preller and co. could try extending Tyson Ross on a bargain deal, something that was unheard of at this time last year. Ross even said during spring training that he was open to an extension. Now before you call me crazy, hear me out on this one. One thing that a lot of people have forgotten is how good Tyson Ross was in the two seasons prior to his Opening Day injury:
In 2014, Ross threw 195 2/3 innings, going 13-14 with a 2.81 ERA and a 3.24 FIP, all while averaging a strikeout per inning. He was tied for 23rd in pitcher fWAR that year, at 3.2. Before that year, Ross had never thrown more than 125 innings in a single season.
In 2015, Ross was even better. He threw 196 innings, struck out 9.73 batters/9 innings, only gave up 0.41 HR/9, had a 3.24 ERA and a career best FIP of 2.98. His fWAR was 4.4, tied with Matt Harvey for 16th in the league.
If Tyson Ross had stayed healthy this season, we’re talking about a top-20 pitcher that the Padres would have had. Top 20 pitchers, the way the market has transformed, get very large contracts.
The Padres reportedly are looking to extend Wil Myers and maybe even Yangervis Solarte this offseason. Extending Tyson Ross, if both sides agree, to a team-friendly contract would be a good way to get some fans in the seats as well. Let’s face it, besides Luis Perdomo and MAYBE Colin Rea, the Padres Opening Day rotation next year is going to be very poor and unexciting. Tyson Ross, with a new contract under his belt, makes the Padres 2017 rotation that much better.
Let’s say he has a good 2017 after the extension. Perhaps then a trade in the 17-18 offseason could be in order. Ross being under contract would increase the return for Ross if a said trade would happen to occur. But that’s a way down the line.
An extension for Tyson Ross is a risk, but if it’s team friendly and Tyson really wants to be here, wouldn’t it be a chance worth taking?
We’ll see what happens. One thing is for sure, barring health, Tyson Ross is going to be the Padres Opening Day starter in 2017. In a season where the only thing we will have to look forward to is the kids coming up and playing, Tyson Ross should excite the Friar Faithful a little bit.