The Nationals’ usage of Ross Detwiler has been puzzling all season and, in recent days, it came up again. The Nationals needed a spot starter for Tuesday and they were deciding between Detwiler and Blake Treinen for days. The Nationals took the precaution of limiting Treinen in Class AAA Syracuse and holding Detwiler out of games for six days. Then on Monday afternoon, Treinen, who seemed like the leading candidate anyway, was officially told that he would come up to Washington to start.
As a result, Detwiler was again relegated to mop-up duty when the score was 4-0 against a dealing Clayton Kershaw and he further put the game out of reach.
Detwiler came on in the eighth inning on Tuesday and allowed four runs. He left a first-pitch sinker over the plate to start off the inning and Hanley Ramirez crushed it to center field for a home run. He then walked Matt Kemp and gave up a single to Andre Ethier. After two weak popups, Detwiler served up a three-run home run to Drew Butera, the Dodgers’ eighth-place hitter. A long layoff in between appearances likely didn’t help his command.
“He missed a fastball right in the middle,” catcher Jose Lobaton said. “Then a change-up. Those were the two pitches. His best pitch is the sinker and missed that one in the middle and Ramirez got that one pretty good. The other was a change-up high, supposed to be down. We’ve gotta learn.”
When Detwiler lost his spot in the starting rotation this spring, Williams said the Nationals could use the hard-throwing left-hander as a special weapon in the bullpen. Instead this season, he has been limited to mop-up and insurance duty. As a starter in his career, Detwiler has a 4.02 ERA over 69 starts. He is, at least, an average major league starter in his prime with plenty of potential. Instead as a reliever this season, he ranks 180 out of 191 relievers in the average leverage index, meaning only 11 other relief pitchers have been used in less meaningful game situations than him.
“We’ve talked to him about having more of a role where we can get him in there more,” Williams said. “Given [Monday], we’re looking at him saying he could be the long guy for today. That’s kind of how it’s been. We’d like to get him in there more. We’ll make plans to do that. [Monday] is an example of we gotta hold him, hold him because we didn’t know how it was going to go today. Turned out that Blake pitched well and we had to get him an inning today and it just didn’t work out. He’ll get back in there.”
The Nationals have also messed with Treinen’s pitching schedule out of need. Before his start on Monday, he had thrown only one inning in games in week. He was in the process of being stretched out at Syracuse after a stint as a long reliever with the Nationals in April. But then, the Nationals needed him and limited him to a one-inning start on Saturday. Now, he heads back to Syracuse to continue building innings as a starter.
“It’s been kind of a hit and miss with him because of some need up here and some decisions we’ve had to make,” Williams said. “It’d be nice to get him on a normal rotation so he can take it from here and move forward.”
Treinen has been both a reliever and starter, and likes both. His high-octane fastball could make him an ideal late-inning reliever, but the Nationals view him as a starter for now. His dominant first five innings against the Dodgers showed why.
“It’s 95 to 98 mph sinking fastball,” Williams said. “And [Monday] it was for strikes to both sides and a breaking ball to go along with it. I think he established fastball early and was able to go to the breaking ball later and have some swings and misses. For me, he’s a pitch to contact guy because he’s one pitch away from a double play at all times. He does have the ability to strike guys out, too. I like what I saw and I think everybody else did, too.”
FROM THE POST
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 3, Durham 2: Omar Poveda allowed two runs on three hits over six innings. Michael Gonzalez struck out one and allowed one hit over 1 1/3 scoreless innings. The Chiefs faced former Nationals prospect Nate Karns, who allowed one runs on five hits and four walks over six innings. Will Rhymes went 2 for 4 and knocked in two runs.
Harrisburg 5, Richmond 1: A.J. Cole struck out seven and allowed only seven hits over six scoreless innings. Caleb Ramsey, Jason Martinson, Matt Skole, Kevin Keyes and Brian Jeroloman each drove in a run.
Potomac 4, Frederick 3: John Simms allowed three runs, only one earned, on four hits over six innings. Rafael Martin and Robert Benincasa combined for three scoreless innings of relief. Randolph Oduber went 3 for 4 with two doubles. Oscar Tejeda hit his fifth home run, a three-run shot.
Hagerstown 6, Lexington 5: Hector Silvestre tossed five scoreless innings and allowed only one baserunner. Estarlin Martinez had three walks and a hit. Willie Medina went 2 for 3. John Wooten drove in two runs.