If Ross Detwiler looks happier on the mound lately, he has a simple explanation. “The starts have been going more my way,” he said. “So it’s a lot more fun.” Detwiler has been smiling more on the mound and scowling less. He’s been joking with opposing hitters at times. His body language has been far more relaxed. In actuality, it’s not just because he’s had success.
“It’s something I take from Gio,” Detwiler said. “He has fun. He’s relaxed. Obviously, he seems to get the best out of himself that way. I figured I’d try that and see how it went.”
It has gone well. In Detwiler’s five starts since rejoining the Nationals’ rotation, the Nationals have gone 4-1 and he has a 2.35 ERA. He may be the Nationals’ fifth starter, but he has kept up with the top of their rotation. When he takes the mound tomorrow, Detwiler will be coming off two straight starts in which he pitched seven innings and allowed one earned run combined.
Manager Davey Johnson feels Detwiler’s recent surge is a product of finding more comfort in the majors. “The more you pitch up here, the more you know what you’re up against,” Johnson said. In his last 24 starts, a span that began in the middle of 2011, Detwiler has a 3.26 ERA.
Detwiler also made a recent adjustment that has helped him. For the majority of his career, Detwiler relied far more on his sinking, two-seam fastball than his hard, straight four-seamer. He would throw the four-seamer inside to hitters, but that was it.
Pitching coach Steve McCatty sat down with Detwiler and suggested he throw more four-seamers, with the intention of making his two-seamer more effective. “He said, ‘Why not save it until you need a ground ball or something?’ ” Detwiler said. “If you throw them a four, four, four and then a two, they’re going to mis-hit it.”
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