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Ross Detwiler giving Nationals much to consider for fifth spot in pitching rotation

Washington Nationals pitcher Ross Detwiler had just thrown six scoreless innings in a 2-0 victory over the Miami Marlins tonight when Manager Davey Johnson was asked about the status of his fifth starter once ailing Chien-Ming Wang comes back into the rotation.

“I don’t want to think about it,” Johnson said with a wide smile.

The intrigue of whether Detwiler will receive more starting nods once Wang does recover from a right hamstring injury grew a bit more following a third straight strong outing from Detwiler, the club’s seventh overall pick in the 2007 draft.

In 16 innings this season, Detwiler has allowed one earned run, 11 hits and four walks with 15 strikouts. His ERA is 0.56, and he improved to 2-0 by allowing just one Marilins player to advance past first base.

At the end of spring training, Detwiler was a late addition as a starting pitcher, which was why Johnson said he removed him after six innings and 79 pitches tonight. Detwiler, in fact, appeared to be getting more effective as the game progressed.

In his final inning, for instance, Detwiler faced just three hitters and struck out the last two, including Giancarlo Stanton looking for the last out.

“I felt good, but it goes back to Davey protecting us,” Detwiler said of his early departure. “He knows I didn’t have a spring as a starter, so he’s protecting us, and look at how our bullpen’s done, so it’s easy to go to them.”

This winter and through spring training, Detwiler had difficulty envisioning himself as a realistic member of the crowded rotation, with the Nationals signing Edwin Jackson and trading for Gio Gonzalez.

Detwiler figured he had earned a spot at the end of last season, when in10 starts he compiled a 3.21 ERA. But when spring arrived, the Nationals sent him to the bullpen.

In a surprise move, though, Washington sent down veteran John Lannan and his $5 million contract before the final exhibition game, thus affording Detwiler his opportunity while the Nationals wait for Wang, who’s expected back at the end of this month.

“I like what I’m seeing,” Johnson said of Detwiler. “He’s been outstanding.”

More on the Nationals and MLB:

Nats return to winning formula vs. Marlins

Box score: Nationals 2, Marlins 0

Nats Park groundskeeper is always on patrol

Gallery: MLB power rankings

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