Detwiler Dazzles in Season Debut

The Nationals entered Tuesday’s game against the Mets coming off a ninth inning loss the previous night.  Despite impressive outings by Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann earlier in the season, a Nats starter hadn’t yet earned a win through four games.  Ross Detwiler did his best to change that on Tuesday night.

Entering the game as the team’s fifth starter, the storylines surrounding Detwiler were more than just trying to prevent a second straight loss for the Nats.  Just two days before the season opened, the team announced that John Lannan would be demoted to Triple-A Syracuse in favor of giving Detwiler a chance in the Nats big league rotation.  It was unexpected news, but you can be sure the young power lefty wanted to prove the team didn’t make the wrong decision in his first outing of the year.

The Mets entered the game on Tuesday 4-0 and looking strong despite low expectations.  Dillion Gee, the Mets starter, has given the Nationals’ offense fits in previous seasons.  It was going to be up to Ross Detwiler to have a good night and did he ever come through.

Ian Desmond led off the game with a line drive home run to left field that would have been gone even before the Mets brought in their right field fence, but when Detwiler entered the game in the bottom of the inning, there was some cause for concern.  He gave up a leadoff double to Ruben Tejada, followed by a single from Ronny Cedeño.  Those two hits essentially ended the hiccups from Detwiler.  He struck out two of the next three batters and stranded both runners.

After the first inning, it was easy street for Detwiler.  He was pulled after just five innings, likely because he’s still not fully stretched out.  Remember, he was supposed to be a long reliever as recently as April 3rd.  But Detwiler didn’t give up a hit after the first two batters of the game; he struck out six while walking just one.  He didn’t give up any runs, and he earned the first win of any Nationals starter this season with a 6-2 victory.

His average fastball velocity was 91.5 mph, which is the slowest of any Nationals starter so far this season, but the important part is his command.  He had impeccable control and location of his pitches, and his curveball was so incredible it looked like he was trying to rival the curve of Gio Gonzalez, who has one of the best lefty curves in baseball.

Everyone in the Nationals organization, besides John Lannan, has to feel great about this outing from Detwiler.  Many wondered if the former sixth overall pick from the 2007 amateur draft would ever be able to do what he did last night.  It is just one game though, and remember, Detwiler was pulled after the fifth inning.  In previous years, Detwiler would have trouble the third time through the opponent’s order, and he was so efficient tonight, he didn’t even get there.  Perhaps that was another reason for Davey Johnson to get him out of the game: show him what he can do, keep his confidence up, and leave him in a little longer next time around.  If Ross Detwiler can pitch like he did last night in most of his future starts, he is simply going to dominate other teams’ No. 5 starters.

Joe Drugan

About Joe Drugan

Joe is the Managing Editor of The Nats Blog and host of the Nats Talk On The Go podcast. He's been blogging about the Nationals since 2010 and with The Nats Blog since 2011.