Ross wins tuneup for the postseason
WASHINGTON — The next time right-hander Joe Ross takes the mound for the Washington Nationals, he will almost certainly be making his major league postseason debut. When exactly that will come, and whether he will be starting, remains to be seen — though he seems a good candidate to start Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, if necessary.
The next time Ross takes the mound, he will not have the luxury of building stamina, thrust into the postseason intensity he has yet to experience. The four onerun innings he threw in a 5-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on a sleepy September afternoon Thursday could not simulate what is to come. But with a week to go before the playoffs and many questions unanswered, rainy outings like these are all the Nationals have to go on as they build their postseason plan.
Though he lasted only those four innings because his pitch count climbed, Ross looked as ready for a full-blown starting role as he has since returning from the disabled list earlier this month. Rookie catcher Pedro Severino, who might just find himself starting Game 1 of the division series against Clayton Kershaw, homered. The makeshift middle of the order produced. Rookie Reynaldo Lopez shone in long relief.
The Nationals won their 93rd game, three more than the Dodgers had entering their late game Thursday night. With any combination of Nationals wins and Dodgers losses totaling two, the Nationals will clinch home-field advantage in the NLDS.