WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Joe Ross didn't pitch well enough to get the win during an 8-4 victory over the Braves on Sunday afternoon. The rookie lasted 4 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on five hits. He threw 76 pitches.
It didn't help that his fastball, which usually averages around 93 to 94 mph, was clocked at 90 mph. For manager Matt Williams, Sunday's outing was a sign of fatigue, so the Nationals have to decide whether Ross' season is coming to an end.
"The fact that the fastball came down is a sign that he is tired, so we'll see what the next one will hold for him." Williams said. "[Shutting him down] is a big discussion for us. We have to understand where he is at -- the territory that he is in and what options we have going forward. We have a few days to make those decisions. We'll move forward on it when we can."
Ross -- who has thrown 149 2/3 innings between the Majors and Minors -- acknowledged that he didn't have his best stuff on the mound. With the velocity down, it affects his slider and changeup.
This is the second straight start Ross didn't pitch into the fifth inning. In his previous start, against the Cardinals on Tuesday, Ross lasted 2 2/3 innings and allowed three runs on one hit. It was hot that day and Ross had a tough time gripping the ball. It didn't help that he never used a rosin bag during his baseball career.
If the team decides to shut Ross down, it would not be a surprise to see Doug Fister or Tanner Roark back in the rotation. Fister has been in the bullpen as a long reliever since Ross was placed in the rotation in early August. Roark has been used as a reliever and starter, and he could start against the Mets on Wednesday if Stephen Strasburg is not able to go. Strasburg (back tightness} had a bullpen session Sunday morning. He threw for 15 minutes and felt fine, according to Williams.
"We'll see how he is tomorrow and make a decision from there," Williams said.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All theTime. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.