The Nationals’ Unlucky Arm

Ross Detwiler’s 1-2 record isn’t indicative of how he’s started this season.

The 6-foot-5 left-hander has been mostly accurate with his pitches, walking only six of 131 batters he’s faced. His 2.03 ERA is 16th best in Major League Baseball. However, in his two previous starts, Detwiler can point to pitches that veered the outcomes.

On April 23, with both teams scoreless in the fourth inning,

St. Louis first baseman Allen Craig took a Detwiler pitch down the right field line for a double, which scored Shane Robinson. Detwiler then gave up two more singles, which drove in Craig from second. That was all the Cardinals needed in a 2-0 win.

This past Sunday, Detwiler got off to a shaky start. After giving up a single and double, second baseman Brandon Phillips ripped a fastball into center field, scoring two runs.

Detwiler threw 35 of his 89 pitches in the first inning but settled in as the game continued, though Washington ultimately lost 5-2. Detwiler was visibly frustrated after the game.

“You got to make better pitches at the right times,” he said.

While he can pinpoint his mistakes, Detwiler hasn’t received much help from the Nationals’ offense. In his past two starts, Washington has scored a total of two runs.

Shortstop Ian Desmond has noticed how unfortunate Detwiler has been this season.

“He pitched great and luck turns against you,” Desmond said.

When Detwiler faced the Braves on April 12 at Nationals Park, he gave up one earned run in seven innings pitched. He struck out a season-best five batters. His lone run allowed was a solo home run by Chris Johnson before Detwiler exited with Washington leading 4-1 after the seventh. The Nationals’ bullpen then proceeded to give up five runs (four earned) as Atlanta rallied to win 6-4.

Last Sunday’s game against Cincinnati was Detwiler’s worst statistically. He gave up 11 hits and threw 89 pitches through five innings.

“When [Detwiler’s] not really sharp, that’s going to happen,” manager Davey Johnson said. “He gave up a bunch of hits.”

Detwiler will look to regroup Friday night when Washington opens its weekend series against Pittsburgh. He knows that, despite his record, he has four quality starts in five outings. He’s analyzed what’s gone wrong of late to correct the mistakes that have hurt his team.

“You go back and figure out why everything went wrong,” Detwiler said. “You learn a lot more from your failures than your success.”

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