Washington Nationals' manager is proud of the ways in which 27-year-old lefty Ross Detwiler has grown as a pitcher over the last few seasons. Though the '07 1st Round pick really made his mark on the national scene in Game 4 of last October's NLDS, it's been a long maturation process and the skipper that's overseen his development since late 2011 said before today's start that Detwiler's still a work in progress. "He's really progressed very rapidly," Johnson told reporters, "His numbers weren't that great for what he's capable of doing in Triple-A and when he came up he pitched out of the bullpen some, and then when he went into my rotation, pretty much at the end of '11, he's grown almost like every start and gotten more and more confidence."
"He still has a lot of growing to do," the Nats' 70-year-old manager said. "Good young arm coming up and having success, there's still a higher ceiling there. I mean, he's pitched basically with his fastball and great location and he's still got a great curve ball and changeup. So he hasn't really fully matured as far as I'm concerned." His success, Johnson explained, is all about command. "He's been awfully good with his location. His fastball is away and down. And when he comes in sometimes he elevates it a bit. His location with his fastball has been outstanding."
Detwiler's fastball alone wasn't enough tonight, however. Through three scoreless innings vs St. Louis, Detwiler threw nothing but fastballs and sinkers, but in the fourth he gave up four straight hits to start the frame, all on four-seam fastballs. The Nats' lefty mixed in a few changeups, but all of them were balls and the Cards finally caught hold of his heater and scored the only two runs they'd need in their 2-0 win. All but 10 of Detwiler's 93 pitches to the Cards were four-seamers or sinkers. While he's been successful with that mix so far this season, the Cardinals got to him the second time around in the nation's capital tonight.
"I think I was overthrowing some pitches in the fourth," Detwiler said, "Especially in key situations and made stupid mistakes and paid for it." The left-hander said his command was there, "in the first three," but he thought he was overthrowing it in when the Cards finally got to him. "I haven't watched any video or anything, what went wrong," Detwiler told reporters, "First indication of the ball being up is I'm overthrowing it a little bit."
Adam Wainwright made the two runs hold up, striking out nine in 8.1 scoreless and handing the ball to Edward Mujica to record the final two outs. The Cards' starter gave up just five hits and one walk, his first of the season, and Mujica retired the two batters he faced in the shutout win.
Davey Johnson was not happy about the offense after the game. "I'm usually pretty patient," Johnson said, "But I'm getting to my rope's end. The effort is there, but we're just not getting it done. We've got the players who can get it done, but we're just not getting it done. It's time to get a little mad. I mean, you've got to tip your hat to Wainwright. He pitched a heck of a ballgame, but we're not centering it up and we're not giving as good of at bats as we're capable of, and it's been about a week we've been kind of real quiet offensively."
Johnson said he didn't express those thoughts to his players, but noted, "I'm just close. But, it's just frustrating."
"The effort is always there," the manager continued, "But we're just not hitting the ball like we're capable of."
Johnson told reporters there would be a few changes tomorrow in the series finale with the Cards. Asked to diagnose the problem, Johnson said, "The way I read this ballclub, it's more everybody's trying to do something, trying to do maybe a little too much instead of just doing what's there. Hitting the ball hard somewhere. Get on base. Getting some momentum going. But it's frustrating."
"But we've just got to pick it up a notch," Johnson concluded, "kind of get mad."