Joe Ross would likely pitch for the Nationals on Thursday if the game is played as scheduled. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

PHILADELPHIA — The Nationals are unsure how this week will play out, given the rainy forecasts in Philadelphia and Hurricane Florence’s expected arrival to the Mid-Atlantic coast. But if their next four games go as scheduled — a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday, the series finale here Wednesday, then a make-up game against the Chicago Cubs in Washington on Thursday — Manager Dave Martinez expects Joe Ross to start against the Cubs.

“We’re still up in the air, but if everything works out and we get a chance to play [Thursday], as of right now I would think it would be Joe,” Martinez said Tuesday. “Like I said, we’re not for sure on that, we don’t know if we want to hold him back or let him pitch on Thursday.”

The Nationals need to be careful with Ross, who is coming off a 14-month recovery for Tommy John surgery he underwent in July of 2017. He made his return to the mound against the Cubs last Friday, but that game was only played for 23 minutes before rain led to a postponement. Ross said he felt good while holding the Cubs scoreless in 1 2/3 innings of work, and was eager to get back out there when his spot in the rotation swung back around.

He should have that chance, if the weather allows the Nationals and Cubs to play Thursday. Ross called last Friday’s start his “debut No. 2,” alluding to his career before and after the Tommy John procedure. That would make Thursday’s appearance “debut No. 2 1/2,” or something like that anyhow, and the Nationals do not plan to otherwise use Ross out of the bullpen to get him additional work.

Ross, who was 5-3 with a 5.01 ERA before the 2017 injury, is among a handful of pitchers looking to prove they can fill out the Nationals’ rotation next season. Another is rookie Erick Fedde, who will face Nick Pivetta in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Phillies.

“I’m not going to keep moving him all over the place,” Martinez said, explaining why he has no intention of using Ross in relief. “I want him to start and get comfortable starting.”



Adam Eaton RF

Trea Turner SS

Bryce Harper CF

Anthony Rendon 3B

Juan Soto LF

Ryan Zimmerman 1B

Wilmer Difo 2B

Spencer Kieboom C

Erick Fedde P


Cesar Hernandez 2B

Rhys Hoskins LF

Justin Bour 1B

Carlos Santana 3B

Asdrubal Cabrera SS

Nick Williams RF

Odubel Herrera CF

Jorge Alfaro C

Nick Pivetta P

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