The once fan favorite reliever was shelved by injury last year. Now, he moves on from the Red Sox to seek new opportunities.
Robbie Ross Jr. has found a new job opportunity in the difficult free agency market. The ex-Red Sox reliever has signed a minor-league deal with the White Sox, per NBC’s Dan Santaromita.
Ross Jr., 28, was a dependable lefty that every team could use in 2015 and ’16. No matter what inning he was called upon, he usually delivered.
In 2015, he posted a 3.86 earned run average with 59 hits, 7 home runs and 53 strikeouts in 60.2 innings. His opponents batting average was .254. These numbers are unspectacular, but reliable as a backend reliever for Boston. Ross was used anywhere from a mop-up duty fifth inning, to a high-leverage eighth inning.
Ross Jr. came into 2016 with long locks of hair that makes any cowboy proud. His control was noticeably better, and his off speed stuff was more effective. The fan favorite known as “The Lawn Mower” earned the nickname by mowing batters down one-by-one.
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The Lawn Mower posted a 3.25 ERA with 47 hits, 2 HR and 56 SO in 55.1 IP. His opponents batting average dropped to .228. Ross Jr. had become an integral part of the Red Sox bullpen and clubhouse. His cheerful humor was beloved by his teammates, and his production was loved by the fans. The then 26 year old was set to become Boston’s reliable lefty out of the pen for 2017.
However, his time in Boston did not consist of a story book ending.
Last year, Ross Jr. came out of the gate slow and unproductive. After a demotion to Triple-A Pawtucket in April (where he only pitched six innings), he was placed on the disabled list with inflammation in his throwing elbow. That injury doomed Ross Jr. for most of his 2017 campaign, until back surgery in late August put a nail in the coffin for the season.
As Ross Jr. takes on a new journey with the White Sox, the Red Sox now turn to Robby Scott and Roenis Elias as left-handed bullpen options. Robby Scott’s 3.79 ERA in 35.2 IP was effective for Boston, though he was mainly limited as a lefty specialist. Elias is looking to crack the roster full-time, rather than dangle in Pawtucket.
Brian Johnson is also a dark horse option for the pen, though it’s likely Boston uses him as a starter moving forward. Should Johnson excel as a starter, the Red Sox will have a difficult decision to make, since Johnson has never pitched as a reliever and is out of minor league options.
The Red Sox will miss Ross Jr. both off and on the field, as they hope to replace him with bleak options left on the roster.
One could only hope that Ross Jr. rekindles his magic in Chicago and earns a full-time gig in the White Sox bullpen. If he’s able to produce at a high level for the first half of the season, he could become a trade deadline candidate if the White Sox are out of playoff contention.
Should the Red Sox find themselves in a lefty pen bind, the Lawn Mower could make an excellent addition for some summer cleaning.