Detwiler Is Advancing His Game At Potomac

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 8, 2008

ATLANTA, Sept. 7 -- As Ross Detwiler's season is getting longer, it's also getting better -- an encouraging sign for Washington's front office, which saw the 2007 first-round pick struggle for much of the year. On Friday, Detwiler used one of his best starts of the season -- 5 1/3 innings, no runs -- to help the Class A Potomac Nationals advance to the Carolina League championship series.

The P-Nats will face the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, a Braves affiliate, in a best-of-five series.

"We're showing what the Nationals of the future can do," Detwiler said on Sunday.

Last year at this time, Detwiler, 22, was in the big leagues as a September call-up. He pitched just one inning, though, and started this season with Potomac. That's where he encountered the first significant bumps of his professional career.

"Randy Knorr, our manager, has taken me aside a few times and reiterated that the best way to learn is through failure," Detwiler said. "About half of the season has been a real struggle for me."

Washington General Manager Jim Bowden believes Detwiler has turned a corner. In a span of six starts in late July and August, Detwiler only once allowed more than three earned runs. Then, in the playoffs -- where he combined with three relievers for a four-hit, 1-0 shutout -- Detwiler hit 94 mph with his fastball, Bowden said. He allowed just two hits.

Unlucky Seven

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman entered Sunday's game with a 12-game hitting streak, during which he'd boosted his season average from .268 to .287. But in the series finale against the Braves, that streak hit a wall. Zimmerman went 0 for 7, striking out once and leaving two on base.

Second baseman Anderson Hernández went 0 for 3 Sunday, but he also walked four times, tying the Washington-Montreal franchise record. Ryan Church (April 28, 2007) and Rodney Scott (April 12, 1980) also accomplished the feat. As expected the Nationals announced the return of first baseman Dmitri Young, who was reinstated to the active list.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company