Washington Nationals Rewind: A Quick Look Back At Ross Detwiler's Start vs Chicago

Patrick Smith

Washington Nationals' manager Davey Johnson has been talking for some time now about what Ross Detwiler needs to do to continue to develop as a starter and as the Nats' skipper told reporters after last night's game, he may have seen his left-hander take the next step...

"At some point," Davey Johnson explained after Ross Detwiler's April 28th start against the Cincinnati Reds in Nationals Park, "Det will start using all his pitches, mixing them in a la [Jordan Zimmermann]. But that's a maturation process and trial and error." Detwiler allowed 11 hits that afternoon, all but one of them singles, and struggled to mix in his offspeed stuff against a good fastball hitting ballclub. As the Nats' skipper explained, as far as Detwiler had come over the last few seasons, he still had some growing to do. "From a managing standpoint" Johnson told reporters, "You like to see when you know they start applying all their weapons as a pitcher and going after them."

"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." - Davey Johnson on Ross Detwiler's continued development

"Good young arm coming up and having success," Johnson said, but, "... 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." Detwiler followed that outing up with a 5.0 inning start against Pittsburgh in PNC Park last weekend in which he gave up six hits, two home runs and 3 ER overall, while throwing 84 pitches, 51 of them strikes in a 3-1 loss to the Pirates. It wasn't the '07 1st Round pick at his best. "To me he had a little command problem," Johnson told reporters after that start, "He threw a lot of pitches in a short time, but he was getting ball up. But, he kept us in the ballgame."

The loss in Pittsburgh was the third-straight for Detwiler. He returned to the mound last night in the nation's capital in the Nats' 7-3 win over the Chicago Cubs. The Nationals' left-handed starter gave up eight hits, six of them doubles and threw 90 pitches, 57 of them strikes in 6.2 IP before he was lifted in favor of the Nats' right-handed reliever Craig Stammen. Though Detwiler started off throwing strictly four-seamers and sinkers he began to mix curves (which Brooks Baseball.com identified as sliders) in as the game went on, throwing nine breaking balls total on the night and adding one changeup.

"[Detwiler] started mixing in some curve balls and started throwing some pretty good curve balls, getting ahead and it made it easy for him." - Davey Johnson on Ross Detwiler's adjustments

Though he gave up the six doubles, after surrendering just eight two-base hits through his first six starts, Davey Johnson told reporters after the game that he was impressed with the way Detwiler worked in his breaking ball. "Det pitched a good ballgame," Johnson said, "It was a game where he learned that he had to mix in some curve balls. Pretty good fastball-hitting club and he started, after about the third inning, started mixing in some curve balls and started throwing some pretty good curve balls, getting ahead and it made it easy for him. He wasn't real happy when I hooked him, but that's good, I like that."

Detwiler agreed, when he talked to reporters, that mixing things up and throwing his breaking ball more often was an important step. "I used it a few times," Detwiler said, "So, it's something that they just can't sit on a fastball any more so, I guess that's nice, throwing up another pitch." It's a learning process, as Davey Johnson explained. Trial and error, learning from your mistakes. And as he goes through it, Detwiler keeps getting better. It will be interesting to see just how good he can be if he ever reaches the ceiling of his talent.

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