WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 17: Ross Detwiler #48 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the New York Mets at Nationals Park on July 17, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Asked by MASN's Ray Knight about the quick pace he sustained throughout last night's win over the Philadelphia Phillies, 26-year-old Nats' left-hander Ross Detwiler credited NL Pitcher of the Month Jordan Zimmermann with providing an example of how one could keep the opposing team off-balance. "I watch Jordan a lot," Detwiler said, "Jordan has a quick pace a lot and hitters are not ready to hit against him and that's why he's the Pitcher of the Month. So, I've been learning a lot from him on that and just really bearing down and throwing strikes and going as quick as you can."
Over seven scoreless innings, the Washington Nationals' '07 1st Round pick worked predominantly with his fastball, throwing a two or four-seamer on 78 of 88 pitches, and limiting the Phillies to just three hits and two walks with a sinker that allowed him to induce 11 ground ball outs from the 26 batters he faced. After putting runners on in the first three innings, Detwiler settled in and got real comfortable on the mound, retiring the next fourteen batters in a row to end his night with seven scoreless after which Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard came on to finish things up and hand the Nats' starter his sixth win of the year.
Since returning the rotation, Detwiler's now (2-1) in his last seven starts with the Nationals 5-2 over the same stretch. In his last 42.1 IP, the left-hander has put up a 2.55 ERA with nine walks and 24 K's, lowering his ERA on the year from 3.44 to 3.02 after last night's win. On the year, Detwiler is now (6-4) in 22 games, 16 of them starts, with that 3.02 ERA, a 3.69 FIP, 30 walks (2.59 BB/9) and 70 K's (6.04 K/9) in a career-high 104.1 IP. What's been the difference for Detwiler?
The Nats' closer, Tyler Clippard, was asked last night in an interview with MLB Network Radio hosts Grant Paulsen and Cliff Floyd what he's seen from his teammate. "He's hungry," Clippard told the hosts, "He knows what kind of pitcher he is and ever since he came back he's had an energy about him where he's been aggressive in the zone, pounding the strike zone with fastballs, going right after guys. Tonight was just the perfect example of that. He essentially pitched a seven-inning shutout and just by moving his fastball in and out of the zone and it was really fun to watch. He's worked his butt off over the last couple of years to get to this point and it's all coming together for him. And we're happy to have him on our staff."
As the Nationals' pitching coach Steve McCatty told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier this morning, there were also some well-documented injury setbacks and issues with his delivery and throwing completely across his body that had to be worked through before the 6'5'' left-hander was really able to turn things around on the mound.
"With Ross we had to work on mechanical issues," McCatty explained, "He was way across his body a couple of years ago and then right before Spring Training he hurt his hip. And then he was on the comeback and last year he threw the ball well at times and he pounded the zone in Spring Training and probably could have made the club out of Spring Training but didn't. Right now he's back to the same thing. He's taken what he does and uses it. And that's pound the zone. He's got a good fastball, he's back to throwing it with velocity. He's got great sink and he's just attacking guys."
Davey Johnson, who has overseen Detwiler's maturation, working him back into the rotation late last year and showing confidence in the pitcher's ability and potential throughout the process, was impressed by what he saw last night from the left-hander. "He was outstanding," Johnson said, "He was coming down, he had outstanding sink. They couldn't center on it, a lot of ground balls, trying to get down on it hit some pop ups. That was dominant. He's such a still, so young up here, with his pitch count, after he's been settled in here and got a bunch of wins, I'll be letting him go further."
"It's crazy to think [Detwiler's] our no.5 guy," Tyler Clippard said after last night's win, "I'm pretty sure he could 1 or 2 in anybody else's organization."