Ross Detwiler. The name invokes an array of emotions. Anger at Jim Bowden, for taking him over Rick Porcello or Jason Heyward. Naseua, remembering some of his starts last season. And...also hope, for the potential he has showed. We're in a unique situation this year, we have the luxury of allowing him to throw multiple rehab starts in the minors before slotting him into the rotation--something, due to a dearth of pitching, that would not have happened previously. So let's take a look at the enigma called Ross Detwiler.
The sixth overall pick in the 2007 draft will make his first start of the 2010 season on Sunday against the Brewers in Milwaukee. Last season Detwiler posted a 5.00 ERA along with a 3.86 FIP and a 4.83 xFIP in 75 innings. At first glance, it's an ugly line, however near the end of the season he reportedly reverted back to his college mechanics and the former Team USA pitcher posted a 1.86 ERA in four September starts and one October start, good for a 3.26 FIP (over 150 innings, which will be the standard I will use), a promising sign.
Alas, the pitcher underwent surgery for a torn hip labrum and as a result was not able to resume pitching until now. So how will he fare? Over 8 rehab starts and 35.2 innings he has posted a 2.27 ERA, which is good for a 2.35 FIP. Now eight starts is a small sample size, but over those eight starts he posted the best BB/9 and WHIP of his career at any minor league level. Looking at his numbers from his 2009 season, we see he has a high walk rate (4 BB/9) and a low strikeout rate (5.1 K/9). He seems to have improved upon that and is exhibiting greater control this year, posting a 2.0 BB/9 and a 8.3 K/9. In his 2008 and 2009 minor league stints, he did post similar strikeout numbers, but the walk numbers were high, resulting roughly in a 2.00 K/BB (give or take) compared to his 4.13 K/BB rate this year. It appears that Ross Detwiler has turned the corner and is ready to be a solid major league starter. I'm not willing to back him as a number 1 or number 2, but I'll defend him as a solid #3 for the Nationals going forward and a bet to post a low to mid 4 xFIP.