Ross Detwiler didn’t become the Nationals’ fifth starter until early April. After the Nationals loaded up on starting pitchers during the offseason, the sixth overall pick of the 2007 draft was preparing for a season in the bullpen. But he pitched so well that he earned a spot on the starting rotation. He took a long, winding path, through injury, improved mechanics, several minor league stops, to get there.
And since, Detwiler has impressed. With Thursday’s 6 1/3-inning, three-hit, one-earned-run performance, he has shown consistency that may keep him in the rotation for the rest of the season – even as starter Chien-Ming Wang continues to rehab in the minors.
After Thursday’s start, Detwiler now has the seventh-best ERA (1.59) in the majors. The 26-year-old left hander has allowed only five earned runs over 28 1/3 innings, struck out 21 batters and walked only nine. He has pitched at least five innings in all five starts this season, allowing no more than three runs in each.
“A lot of times, they say left-handers take longer, but he’s been, since I’ve been here, he’s shown a lot of maturity on the hill,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “A lot of poise, not daunted.”
Detwiler’s strong start to the season will make decisions more difficult for General Manager Mike Rizzo and Johnson once Wang is ready to return. Asked if Wang may see time in the bullpen, Johnson said he hasn’t made up his mind. But, keep in mind, Wang’s slower warmup may make him less suitable for the bullpen.
“All it is, you can only take it day by day,” Detwiler said. “You can’t really dwell on anything. If I’m in the pen and Wang doesn’t get hurt, then I have to go out there. I can’t dwell on it and say woe is me. That’s not going to get me anywhere. That’s going to leave me with no job at all.”
Wang was expected to make a rehab start with Class AA Harrisburg on Thursday night but was scrapped after a rain delay. Instead, he is expected to start for Class A Hagerstown on Friday night, and throw five to six innings and around 75 pitches. Johnson said Wang will make this start and at least another before returning.
Before the season, the Nationals surprisingly sent starter John Lannan and his $5 million salary down to the minors to make room for Detwiler.
“It would have been tough to put Ross in the bullpen,” right fielder Jayson Werth said. “Nothing against John Lannan and what he did last and what he has done the past few years, It’s more of a tough luck situation for Lannan. Because I think he’s capable of pitching in the big leagues, no question. But, Ross really forced their hand, I think. It would have been tough to put him in the bullpen, for me. I think they made the right decision.”
FROM THE POST
Despite the presence of Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, fans have yet to fill Nationals Park. The Nationals have a new initiative to help with that before a big series against hte Philadelphis Phillies, writes Barry Svrluga.
The Nationals, and its fans, can make a big statement this weekend against the Phillies, says Jason Reid.
Harper is at it again: driving in the winning run on an RBI double in his first game hitting third in a 2-1 win over the Diamondbacks.
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
Adam LaRoche’s sore oblique could keep him out for two to three games.
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Buffalo 6, Syracuse 5: Catcher Carlos Maldonado goes 3 for 4. Mark Teahan has two hits, and Brett Carroll adds one.
Harrisburg 5, New Britain 4: Dustin Hood, Jeff Kobernus and Chris Rahl each collect two hits in the win.
Potomac 6, Winston-Salem 5: First baseman Justin Bloxon drives in three runs and finishes 2 for 3 with a homer and double.
Hagerstown 9, Rome 3: Four pitchers combine to hold Rome to eights hits and three runs. Shortstop Jason Martinson adds two more hits, raising his average to .275.