Lost in the news that Manny Acta has now been axed is the news that rookie starting pitcher Ross Detwiler has been called back to AAA-Syracuse.
The 23-year-old starter was only expected to get one or two starts when he was called up in May, but the former first round draft pick impressed and got 10 solid Major League starts.
While he had initial success, it had become evident over the last few starts that Detwiler needed some fine-tuning in AAA. In his 10 starts he posted a 0-5 record with a 6.40 ERA with 33 K’s and 22 walks. In his last two starts however, he failed to pitch more than four innings and allowed at least five earned and 8 hits.
Detwiler’s stint was not a failure however; in fact in most ways it was a smashing success.
Leading into 2009 Detwiler had by most accounts been a large disappointment. A top ten pick in 2007, Detwiler burst on to the scene dominating rookie ball at the age of 21. In four starts he posted a 2.25 ERA with 15 K’s in 12 innings.
This performance gave him a fast track cameo to the Major League’s at the end of the 2007 season. He only had one appearance, and retired the side.
2008 saw Detwiler back in high A ball in a situation where he could pitch his way up the ranks and maybe make another appearance at the end of the season. The lefty couldn’t find his way out of Potomac however.
In 26 starts Detwiler went 8-8 with a 4.86 ERA. In 124 innings he allowed an ugly 140 hits, and a disappointing 114 K’s.
Something had changed in Detwiler, his confidence was shot and it showed.
The Nats development team and Detwiler decided to get back to basics. When Detwiler was drafted, the Nationals completely revamped his delivery to be more Major League efficient. This is common among pitchers when reaching professional ball, in fact it is rather amazing how only a few tweaks can add another several miles per hour to a fastball, and certainly increase their longevity.
For whatever reason, these changes were not something Detwiler could adapt to. It was causing him to hang his slider and not locate his fastballs. After spring training in 2009 he switched back to his old college mechanics and was able to dominate in his last several starts in AA Harrisburg.
His stint in the majors has been very important because it proved to him one thing, he can get Major Leaguer’s out. There is no way to truly express the importance of that one lesson. With Detwilers confidence back, and some fine-tuning, he may end up being better than Zimmermann and Lannan down the road.
Garret Mock Promoted
Taking Detwiler’s spot in the rotation will be Garrett Mock.
26-year-old Mock has pitched well in Syracuse since an early demotion. In eight starts he is 5-1 with a 2.65 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 51 innings.