Robbie Ross Jr. Figures To Be a Key Component of the Red Sox Bullpen

The Red Sox acquired left-handed pitcher Robbie Ross Jr. from Texas in 2014, trading Anthony Ranaudo in exchange for the reliever. Ranaudo has not done much of anything since the trade, but Ross has become an important part of the Boston bullpen, appearing in 54 games in each of 2015 and 2016. In 2015, Ross was a reliable, but unspectacular middle reliever, with a 3.86 ERA (112 ERA+), a 1.302 WHIP, and 7.9 K/9 over 60.2 innings. In 2016, he was significantly better, putting up a 3.25 ERA (141 ERA+) , a 1.265 WHIP, and 9.1 K/9 in 55 ⅔ innings. In the second half of 2016 especially, manager John Farrell showed increasing reliance on Ross, putting him in more important spots: before the All-Star break, nine of Ross’s 25 appearances (36%) were in high-leverage situations, while afterward, 16 of 29 appearances (55.2%) were high-leverage.

What he throws: Ross throws a four-seam fastball (“FF”), curve (“CU”), and slider (“SL”):

Pitch usage and trends: Ross throws his fastball about half the time (52.1%), with his curve and slider roughly splitting the remainder (22.4% and 25.5%, respectively). Ross has only a moderate platoon split, with right-handed batters putting up a .660 OPS against him in 2016, compared to lefties’ 0.545. He keeps pretty much the same pitch repertoire regardless of batter stance or count:

His fastball is fairly hard, averaging 94.1 mph, up a little from his 92.9 mph average fastball velocity in 2015; his velocity (the bottom chart of the two below) dropped slightly over the course of the season, but not enough to affect his results:

Pitch value. Ross’s most effective pitch, based on total bases per 100 pitches, is his curve, which is much better than average to both right- and left-handed batters. Ross’s fastball is very good against lefties, but somewhat worse than average against right-handed batters. His slider shows the opposite trend, being only slightly better than average against left-handed batters but very effective against right-handers:

Pitch location. On average, Ross’s fastball and slider tend to end up near the center of the strike zone, but are broadly spread across the zone so that he isn’t particularly predictable. His curve to left-handed batters tends to be at the bottom of the strike zone, or below it, while to right-handed batters his curve usually ends up on the outer half and near the top:

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Featured image courtesy of Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff.