Nationals starter Joe Ross will have Tommy John surgery on Wednesday in Texas, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post tweets. The Nats pulled Ross from his most recent start, then placed him on the DL with what the team first described as triceps discomfort and then as an elbow sprain.
Ross will, obviously, miss the rest of the season. The loss leaves the Nationals with a lack of good rotation depth — they have an enviable front four in Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark, but there’s a considerable dropoff after that. Potential short-term options include A.J. Cole, Jacob Turner, Austin Voth and Edwin Jackson, none of whom have done much this season to inspire confidence. Prospect Erick Fedde has fared well this year, but he only recently reached the Triple-A level.
The Nationals could, then, enter the trade market for starting pitching. As Jeff Todd pointed out yesterday, the Nats don’t necessarily need an extra starter for the playoffs, and they have a comfortable 9.5-game lead in the NL East. But the addition of another starter would likely give their bullpen a degree of comfort while also insuring themselves against the possibility of another injury to a starting pitcher.
The 24-year-old Ross had a 5.01 ERA in 73 2/3 innings this season, largely because of his 16 home runs allowed in that span. He posted 8.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 37.5 GB% that had fallen off sharply from the 49.8% rate he posted as a rookie in 2015.