Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Phillies has loomed on the Nationals’ schedule for three months now, and so too has the question of who would make a cameo appearance to start that game.
The answer came today from bench coach Chip Hale, who revealed Joe Ross will get the ball for the 1:05 p.m. twinbill opener, with Max Scherzer making his regularly scheduled start in the 7:05 p.m. nightcap.
Hale, subbing for Davey Martinez in meeting with reporters pregame while the manager had some follow-up testing related to last week’s health scare, said Ross has progressed enough in his rehab from a sore right forearm to make this start and attempt to help the Nationals move a step closer to a wild card berth.
“It’s been good,” Hale said. “He’s thrown a ton of flat ground. A lot of long toss. And has had no issues with it and feels good. So we’re excited to get him back out there.”
Ross hasn’t pitched since Sept. 2, when he was torched by the Mets for seven runs on eight hits and three walks in only 3 2/3 innings. He reported his forearm issue later that week after a between-starts throwing session and hasn’t appeared in a game since.
Ross was on a nice run prior to that point, though, going 3-0 with a 1.05 ERA in five August starts, helping offset the loss of Scherzer to his back injury.
Though he has been throwing recently and reports no physical issues, Ross has not had a chance to build up his stamina again. So his workload will be limited Tuesday afternoon, with Erick Fedde and Jeremy Hellickson both available to back him up out of the bullpen.
“Obviously, the pitch count will be monitored,” Hale said. “And we have Fedde and Hellickson that can go long after him if we need it. So we’ll just piece it together.”
The Phillies haven’t yet announced their starter for the opener. Ace Aaron Nola will face Scherzer in the nightcap.