The BoSox Injection staff’s preview of the Boston Red Sox 25-man roster continues with a look at reliever Robbie Ross.
The numbers won’t overwhelm you, but Robbie Ross had a pretty solid season in his first year with the Boston Red Sox.
At least it was better than his previous year, when the failed attempt by the Texas Rangers to turn him into a starter inflated his ERA to a disastrous 6.20. Boston banked on a return to full-time bullpen duty leading to a bounce-back season, which for the most part they were correct about.
When the Red Sox acquired Ross it was with a whiff of desperation to improve a struggling bullpen. Anthony Ranaudo, who was once one of the top pitching prospects in the organization, seemed to be a steep price given how low Ross’ stock had fallen. A year later we are still waiting to see if Ranaudo will ever find success in the big leagues, while Ross has become an important addition to the Red Sox bullpen.
Ross posted a modest 3.86 ERA and struck out 53 batters over 60.2 innings, but became a key member of the bullpen down the stretch. He even collected six saves after the Red Sox ran out of other options to use as a replacement for the injured Koji Uehara in the 9th inning. The 26-year old recovered from a rocky start to produce a 3.29 ERA after June 1 and was the team’s most frequently used reliever in the second half with 31 appearances after the break.
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Now that the Red Sox have brought in Craig Kimbrel to be the new closer, it’s safe to say that Ross will no longer be needed in the 9th inning role. At least we hope not. However, he should remain a vital cog in the bullpen. While the Red Sox now have impressive reliever depth, their top four options at the end of games are all right-handed.
When the Red Sox need to turn to a lefty out of the bullpen, Ross will be the top option to have his name called. Ross held left-handed hitters to a .224 average and .649 OPS last season. While he performed significantly better against left-handed hitters, he’s more than a mere lefty specialist, having faced a right-handed hitter 162 times last season. Ross pitched at least one full inning in 36 of his 53 appearances and tossed more than an inning 12 times.
Ross has proven to be a durable and reliable reliever in his career. The improved depth in the Red Sox bullpen will ease the burden on all of their relievers so that Ross won’t be forced into too many taxing multi-inning efforts, while also allowing for him to be used in more low-leverage situations.
It’s all shaping up for Ross to return to the level he was at in his first two promising seasons in the majors, which helps make the Red Sox bullpen that much stronger.