Sometime in the past couple days, pitching coach Steve McCatty sat down with Ross Detwiler. McCatty can at times be gruff, and at times he can be demanding. With Detwiler, he was neither. He only wanted to reassure Detwiler, in a season in which he has been used in few crucial spots and after two dreadful outings, that the Nationals still had confidence in him.
“We talked,” McCatty said. “I know Det. Det is going to be fine. Before this is said and done, he’s going to be a big part of this bullpen and our success this year.”
The roughest patch of Detwiler’s rough year came this week. Monday night, he surrendered a two-run homer to Todd Frazier that lost the game in the 15th inning. Two nights later, Manager Matt Williams inserted him in the eighth inning, hoping Detwiler could close out a blowout and rebuild his confidence. Detwiler allowed two runs on two hits and a walk, and Williams had to pull him with one out in the ninth.
When the dust settled, Detwiler’s ERA had risen to 5.06 over 21 1/3 innings. The Nationals shifted Detwiler to the bullpen in spring training in hopes of turning him into a dangerous weapon in the late innings. Instead, he has pitched mostly in long relief and unimportant situations, and irregular use has sapped his effectiveness.
“It’s kind of going through the game situation, looking at the matchups when they happen,” McCatty said. “And that’s kind of where it’s at. He doesn’t get the regular work, what you’re used to as a starter, so you’re not able to work on things. But also, part of it is, hopefully he can pitch on a more regular basis. But he hasn’t.”
McCatty said the Nationals’ starters’ penchant for short starts early in the season prevented Detwiler from entering many games. With Craig Stammen getting regular use in long relief, McCatty said the Nationals had to hold Detwiler back in many games as Stammen recovered. McCatty hopes the arrival of Doug Fister can stabilize the rotation and lead to more consistent work for Detwiler.
As far as Detwiler’s recent struggles, McCatty said Detwiler was beat on change-ups, his second pitch behind his sinker.
“When you don’t get to use it that often, you’re in a tight game, and mistakes really are magnified,” McCatty said. “I think he has a real good change-up and made mistakes on it. Those things happen. I trust Det with his fastball. He’s got a great sinker. He can get anybody out. He can get a double play at any time. We’ve talked. I just expressed how much confidence I still have.”