Once again, Ross Detwiler pitched a gem for the Washington Nationals on Monday, which may be one of the most important wins in the team's brief history in DC. His seven innings of four hit, zero run baseball was just the latest in his recent successes on the mound. Widely accepted as the Nats number five starter, Detwiler flies under the radar. He shouldn’t.
Detwiler has flailed a bit in his major league career, and some wondered if the former first-round draft pick would ever figure it out. He’s among the oldest pitchers in a young rotation, but only Stephen Strasburg has less service time in the majors. He has impressed all season, but his second half numbers have been outstanding.
With a 2.79 ERA since the All-Star Break, Detwiler bests all Nats starters since that point. Opposing hitters are hitting just .220 against him since then, also a team best. He has also attacked batters with fastballs at an almost alarming rate recently. For the first three months of the season, he never had a month where he averaged more than 76% fastballs. In the last 30 days, more than 90% of his pitches were fastballs. He’s attacking the strike zone using a combination of a four-seam fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s and a devastating sinker in the low 90s that drops out of the strike zone.
On the flip side, Detwiler’s BABIP in the last 30 days is just .228. He is reaping the benefits of some incredible infield defense and is having some luck pitching to contact. It’s unlikely that his numbers can stay where they are forever, but his new approach of attacking the zone with fastballs will definitely help by reducing his walk rate.
As the Nationals push toward the postseason, Detwiler’s role will be invaluable for the Nats, especially when they lose Stephen Strasburg. Detwiler will be one of three left handed starters in the rotation with the addition of John Lannan, and his ability to make adjustments will be crucial to the Nats success from one of the best bottom of the rotation starters in baseball. So although he goes unnoticed by many, that could be in the Nats best interest. The most dangerous enemy is the one you don't know.