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Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 08/23/2011

Ross Detwiler watching, developing and improving


Since the Nationals inserted Chien-Ming Wang into the rotation in late July there has been an unintended advantage, other than his pitching, of course. Ross Detwiler, a 25-year old who is still learning to become a major league starter after stints as both a starter and reliever, has been able to watch Wang throw, how he uses his trademark sinker and learn how to grow comfortable with it, too.

As he follows along on TV at the stadium and charts Wang’s pitches, Detwiler said he is learning from him how to locate and believe in the pitch even though hitters expect it.

“Just really the conviction he has with every sinker he throws,” he said. “It’s funny going out there because every hitter knows what’s coming but he still gets groundball outs ... He drives the ball down through the strike zone and doesn’t just try to throw it for strikes, he drives it to the catcher.”


Though Detwiler (2-3, 2.61 ERA) insists his starts for the Nationals aren’t an audition for a future, more permanent role in the rotation, they frankly are. And if he keeps improving, as he did through 6 2/3 innings in Monday’s win, it should help his chances.

“Left-handers sometimes take a little longer,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “His command up here has been a lot better than it was in Syracuse. He’s been more around the plate, more aggressive, more quality pitches. You can compare the numbers he has had up here out of the ‘pen or starting and they’re actually better than they were in Syracuse. He’s coming along.”

Added pitching coach Steve McCatty: “The stuff is there. And part of the learning process is getting out there and pitching. And he is starting to see really good results and your confidence gets going.”

Last season, Detwiler was nagged by a hip injury and surgery, and thus lost a chance to pitch more in the majors and develop. When he was called up in 2009, he jumped from Class AA to the big leagues. (“That’s an awful big jump,” McCatty said.) So much of Detwiler’s learning is still happening now, the third season he is spending time with the major league team.

McCatty said he has urged Detwiler to stick to a consistent range of velocity on his pitches, from 92 to 93 mph, instead of fluctuating as much as he had before, from 90 to 96 mph.

“With Ross, we’re working on a couple things,” McCatty said. “Cutter, slider. We’re trying to get him to bounce the breaking the ball instead of trying to throw it so hard. More rotation, less miles per hour on it. And he’s doing really well.”

FROM THE POST:

Jayson Werth hits a three-run home run and Detwiler allows only one run over 6 2/3 innings in Monday’s 4-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

In Hagerstown, Stephen Strasburg threw 60 pitches over three innings, allowing two hits and two runs, one earned, with one walk six strikeouts in his fourth rehab start.

MINOR LEAGUES:

Pawtucket 3, Syracuse 2: Craig Stammen (9-7, 4.44 ERA) allowed three runs and five hits over five innings in the loss.

Harrisburg 4, Portland 1: Starter Tanner Roark and relievers Cory VanAllen and Rafael Martin combined to allow only one run on five hits.

State College 6, Auburn 1: Left fielder Caleb Ramsey and catcher Jeremy Mayo each finish 2-for-4.

Hickory 3, Hagerstown 1: Other than Strasburg, second baseman Adrian Sanchez finished 1-for-3 and drove in the Suns’ lone run.

By  |  07:00 AM ET, 08/23/2011

 
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