Back on May 21, Ross fanned eight batters while allowing just one run on three hits in seven innings in a tough-luck loss to the Twins. The video provides a good jumping-off point for a discussion about Ross' favorite strikeout pitch, the slider, and the sinker, as well. But first, a chart, all of which are courtesy of Brooks Baseball. The first one gives all the pertinent details of Ross' four offerings.
The Padres broadcast helpfully noted that a key for Ross in the start would be his success with the slider in two-strike counts. That was on display against the Twins, as six of his eight strikeouts came with the slider. In total this season, 45 of Ross' 70 strikeouts have been with the pitch, and opponents have hit just .237 with a .373 slugging percentage against it. While it gets him in trouble when he wraps around it too much and leaves it up in the zone, it's typically a nasty put-away pitch. The first graph below shows the outcomes for all of Ross' pitches thus far this season, and the second shows swinging-strike and batted-ball rates for each pitch.
A few things from the slider data in the second graph jump right out. First, when hitters swing at it, they miss it nearly half the time. That's one indicator of an absolutely dominant slider. Second, when they do make contact, it's a foul ball one-fifth of the time. Finally, it results in a ground ball about 55 percent of the time it's put in play. That means the slider results in something other than a whiff, foul ball or grounder about 12 percent of the time hitters swing at it. That's impressive.
It has been an ugly year for the Padres, but they have themselves a quality rotation piece for the future in Ross. On the strength of his slider and sinker, and with a 94 mph fastball and occasional changeup to keep hitters honest, Ross has been a breakout starter this year and will be an asset for both the Padres and fantasy owners in the future.