The Pittsburgh Pirates signed 29-year-old left-handed pitcher Robbie Ross to a minor league deal on Monday. Ross has pitched parts of six seasons in the majors since 2012, debuting with the Texas Rangers, then moving to the Boston Red Sox in 2015. He spent the 2018 season in the minors with the Chicago White Sox, where he began the season on the disabled list, then struggled over 12 appearances before being released in June.
Ross was strong as a reliever for the Rangers during the 2012-13 seasons, posting a 2.22 ERA over 65 innings and 58 appearances as a rookie, then following it up with a 3.03 ERA in 65 appearances the following season. He was tried as a starter in 2014 and it came with poor results, including a 6.20 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP over 78.1 innings.
After being traded to the Red Sox prior to the 2015 season, Ross went back to relief and pitched much better. In 60.2 innings over 54 outings that first season, he had a 3.86 ERA. He was even better the following year, posting a 3.25 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP, with 56 strikeouts and a .228 BAA in 55.1 innings. Ross began 2017 on the disabled list with the flu and then suffered left elbow inflammation in May, which ended his season. He pitched just eight times and had a 7.00 ERA and 1.89 WHIP.
Ross had major trouble throwing strikes during his brief time in the minors last year, walking 17 batters in 10.2 innings at Triple-A. That has never been the case before during his career, so there might be more behind it. He didn’t pitch after being released.
If he can regain his form as a lefty reliever, then it’s a nice pickup for someone on a minor league deal.