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Trying to evaluate Detwiler

Aug 6, 2010, 6:32 AM EDT


Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Ross Detwiler allowed seven runs (four earned) in four innings.

PHOENIX — Among the young players the Nationals need to evaluate over the season's second half, Ross Detwiler ranks near the top of the list.

This isn't some stop-gap, rotation fill-in the Nats are sending to the mound every five days. This is a first-round draft pick who has always projected as a hard-throwing left-hander who has the ability to get opposing hitters out on his own. Unlike plenty of others in the Nationals' system who have to "pitch to contact," Detwiler has the stuff to make hitters swing and miss.

But three starts into his big-league return, Detwiler remains a mystery wrapped in an enigma. He's pitched well at times, has pitched poorly at times and more than anything has received zero help from the guys behind him.

Of the 13 runs Detwiler has allowed in 13 innings so far, only five have been earned.

"Really, we played so bad — and we've done that a couple of times when he's pitched — it's really hard to get a read on how he's pitching," Jim Riggleman said following tonight's 8-4 loss to the Diamondbacks.

Two costly errors in Milwaukee two weeks ago spoiled Detwiler's season debut. His teammates played clean baseball behind him last weekend against the Phillies, and he responded with 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball. But the circus returned tonight to Chase Field, with Adam Dunn booting a second-inning grounder that led to an unearnedRead more »

  1. Josh - Aug 6, 2010 at 11:14 AM

    I think everyone understands that he's been the victim of bad defense, and I also like his strikeouts. Unfortunately, what I don't like–and this is just as important–are his walks. Even the great Nolan Ryan was only about a .500 career pitcher because he walked so many batters (and played for bad teams), and Detwiler is no Nolan Ryan. If Detwiler can solidify his control as well as get batters to swing and miss–and personally I don't know how much of that is just the league not having adjusted to him yet–then he may be a potential third starter, but if he cannot he will never come close to his ceiling and is destined for the bullpen.

  2. Anonymous - Aug 6, 2010 at 11:29 AM

    The question is when have te guys played well behind a pitcher this season!?

  3. HHover - Aug 6, 2010 at 11:32 AM

    Mark – a correction to your stats – of 13 runs, only *5* have been earned.

  4. nattaboy - Aug 6, 2010 at 11:37 AM

    What the sabermetricians say about evaluating RD in 2010:Fielding-independant-pitching (same scale as ERA): 4.11His ground ball, strikeout, and walk rates are all up over last year. Interestingly, so are his batting average on balls in play (.330 to .394) and homers per fly ball (3.7% 7.1%). Those two are often assigned to luck, which says the defense isn't the only thing he's been battling this year.Of course, this is all after only 3 starts.So, I agree about the walks. But other than that his nerdy stats indicate a longer look would be interesting.

  5. Feel Wood - Aug 6, 2010 at 12:14 PM

    So Mark, you're saying that it will be Lannan and Stammen who go down to make room for Marquis and Strasburg?

  6. Anonymous8 - Aug 6, 2010 at 1:16 PM

    Detwiler said…"It could be [rust from the long layoff following hip surgery]," he said. "It could also be not getting over my front side. Whether I'm subconsciously a little hesitant to get over the leg I just had surgery on or not, something needs to change."This is what you hear from Lannan and Stammen after every sub-par performance which unfortunately most of the time. Good pitchers make adjustments. You see this with Strasburg and you would see it last year with JZim.On a positive note, Zim smashes 2 HRs and raises his average back over .300 With Kennedy hitting in the 2 hole and Dunn hitting in the cleanup, this should continue to score runs for the Nats pitchers so it is up to the pitchers and defense to protect the leads when they get it.

  7. natsfan1a - Aug 6, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    Weird how some pitchers tend to get run support, or clean defense behind them, and others don't. I suppose that pitchers can influence the latter to some extent by keeping the guys behind them on their toes. Not saying that is a factor in this case, but just generally musing that it's odd how that seems to happen, and not only with the Nats.

  8. markfd - Aug 6, 2010 at 1:33 PM

    I would have said the other day that Detweiler stays up when Marquis et al get added to the rotation, but I think he needs to finish the season in AAA and work on his mechanics.

  9. nattaboy - Aug 6, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    Agreed, before last night I think Detwiler had a solid hold on a rotation spot. But now if Lannan makes a (really) strong case tonight, they'll pretty much be forced to send Ross down instead.Stammen to pen, Lannan/Detwiler + Balester to Syracuse.Fairly easy decision for now, but the fun begins when Maya and ZNN are ready just as the minor league season ends.

  10. Anonymous - Aug 6, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    like the Churchill reference, Mark…

  11. natsfan1a - Aug 6, 2010 at 2:16 PM

    Churchill reference? That one sailed right over my head (at least it didn't bean me).

  12. JayB - Aug 6, 2010 at 2:50 PM

    Detwiler needs to return to AA and work on getting his fastball back up to 94-95 MPH…and yes I posted this earlier in the week and guess what….it proved out again….he is not the same pitcher with a 91 MPH fastball….Last year in Sept he hit 94 MPH each batter…As Mark confirmed he was drafted as a hard throwing Lefty….he looks more like Matt Chico right now……The should be ready but it looks like they did not rehab him correctly….he should not be tossing up all that junk.

  13. Steveospeak - Aug 6, 2010 at 2:51 PM

    I want them to keep Detwiler in the rotation but the numbers game will be hard. They are already skipping over Olsen. I'm sure Livan was/will be placed on Waivers, but he is making pennies even non-contenders might claim him. Honestly I'd love to Olsen, Maya, Detwiler, Strasburg/Zimmerman, and Marquis get the rest of the starts this year. The first 5 guys are the future, but getting Marquis some quality work could increase his trade value for the offseason/early next year.

  14. Anonymous - Aug 6, 2010 at 3:00 PM

    Well, at least I think it was… and not really a reference, I guess… not sure what you'd call it actually… alluding to a Churchill quote?“Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” -W. Churchill

  15. Anonymous - Aug 6, 2010 at 3:04 PM

    "The should be ready but it looks like they did not rehab him correctly….he should not be tossing up all that junk. "Funny, this is exactly what I think every time I read something JayB tosses up.

  16. natsfan1a - Aug 6, 2010 at 3:24 PM

    D'oh! Thanks, Anon. I missed that allusion.

  17. Anonymous - Aug 6, 2010 at 3:41 PM

    I don't get what the big rush was to have Marquis fly up to LA to make the Sunday start; why couldn't he pitch one more game in Syracuse and then start the next time his turn is up? I think that the rest of this year should be all about evaluation and preparation for next year; in that context I think it is not a bad idea to have Detwiler stay up and work with the major league staff on his delivery; I do agree that if he can't miss bats he is of little use in the big leagues. I would send Stammen and Lannan down; we know what they bring to the table. On another note if someone offers up any prospect with any chance of making it to the bigs I would trade Livo in a heart beat; he has done great and if we are so inclined we can always bring him back next year (there won't be a bidding war for him).

  18. Feel Wood - Aug 6, 2010 at 3:53 PM

    When did Marquis make his first rehab start? There's a limit to how long a player can rehab in the minors when coming off the DL, 30 days I think. Marquis may be up against that limit, and unlike Zimmermann he can't just be optioned to the minors to get more time. He either has to come back to the 25 man roster or be waived.

  19. Anonymous - Aug 6, 2010 at 4:02 PM

    Feel Wood, Thanks; that makes sense.

  20. HHover - Aug 6, 2010 at 4:21 PM

    Marquis made his first rehab appearance on 7/18 with the GCL Nats (per his baseballreference minors page).

  21. Evan S - Aug 6, 2010 at 4:57 PM

    Detwiler deserves to get another shot. As said, this kid IS NOT a midlevel replacement, he is a first round pick and an importnat part of the team's future. He was projected as a front end starter, but obviously (and thanks to the talent on the team), he will at best be the number 3 starter next year. It is important to see what we can get out of him.

  22. Anonymous - Aug 6, 2010 at 5:00 PM

    Could the Marquis start be all about the cheap Nats trying to save Olsen's bonus money?

  23. Steve M. - Aug 6, 2010 at 5:17 PM

    Olsen has missed too much of the year to qualify for his innings bonus money. He probably could squeeze out approx 70 more innings based on 10 more starts with an average of 7 innings each.Olsen is arbitration eligible again so he will make his money based on how he finishes the season to make a case for himself.They need to pitch Detwiler a couple more times to see what they have and the same with Marquis who had his best outing so far in the Minors.It gets real interesting once Maya and JZim are ready but wouldn't be suprised if Rizzo goes to a 6 man rotation in September which will get them closer to the end of September with Strasburg also.

  24. Steve M. - Aug 6, 2010 at 5:30 PM

    Looks like Danny Espinosa is one step closer to the Majors as he just got promoted to AAA.

  25. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Aug 6, 2010 at 5:45 PM

    Steve M. said… Olsen has missed too much of the year to qualify for his innings bonus money.No, he hasn't. Mark wrote the other day that Olsen is due for something like $100,000 bonus for each of his 11th and 12th starts, and more after that. You're not going to convince me that isn't a factor is "skipping" his next start. We all know that's exactly how the Lerners think and act, not that I would like to open up the Lerners-are-cheap thread. No, not me.

  26. Steve M. - Aug 6, 2010 at 6:05 PM

    SBCITPFM – Here we go again with theories on Lerner saving money. As my post clearly stated, I was talking about an innings bonus not the starts bonus. If they wanted to save it, why didn't they just leave him rehabbing in the Minors? That also would have brought down his value in arbitration. I think there are a few on here that are on a Lerner witch hunt.If they wanted to shed payroll and save some real money, they would have saved over $4 million if they traded Adam Dunn to the White Sox before the trade deadline.

  27. TimDz - Aug 6, 2010 at 6:27 PM

    Per Adam Kilgore of Nationals Journal: Olsen will make $250,000 for starts 11 & 12. I belive subsequent starts earn him $100,000. He is still going to get those starts, so I don't see the Lerner "cheapness" theory holding any water.

  28. Feel Wood - Aug 6, 2010 at 6:33 PM

    Olsen has an innings bonus AND a starts bonus? If the Lerners are as cheap as the wiseguys around here say, they would never stand for such double dipping!

  29. Anonymous - Aug 6, 2010 at 6:59 PM

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/05/nationals-pitchers-with-major-incentives.htmlAccording to this on MLBTR, here is what was known of Olsen's incentives deal which doesn't give much info.Why is this a big deal anyway? Like Steve M. said, if they didn't why to pay him, they didn't have to call him up. Duh!

  30. Mrs. Z. - Aug 6, 2010 at 7:13 PM

    Earlier Anons: Mark has been known to drop a Churchill allusion or two, sometimes without even realising it. The correct quote from a 10/1/1939 Churchill speech, however, is, "I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma: but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest."Perhaps here we cannot forecast to you the action of Detwiler. He is a riddle wrapped in a mystery insider an enigman: but perhaps there is a key. That key is the Nationals' fanbase interest…

  31. Anonymous - Aug 6, 2010 at 8:00 PM

    Hey Sunshine; I,m sure Rizzo wakes up every morning and dreams up of ways to save a few bucks for the cheap Lerners. You are big on conspiracy theories eh Sunshine?

  32. Andrew - Aug 6, 2010 at 9:04 PM

    Anon at 4PM – Exactly. Perfect described for the haters that they have resorted to conspiracy theories on their quest to smear the Lerners.A few pounced on the Lerners that dumping Cristian Guzman was about the money then we find that the Nats had to ship him along with $2 million to close the deal.I think people are entitled to their opinions but these seems tainted with a little venom and hatred and that crosses the line. I just wish they would take it to another internet location.

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