Oct 18, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT
Age on Opening Day 2014: 28
How acquired: 1st round pick, 2007 draft
MLB service time: 4 years, 2 days
2013 salary+bonuses: $2.3375 million
Contract status: Arbitration-eligible in 2014 and 2015, free agent in 2016
2013 Stats: 13 GS, 71.1 IP, 92 H, 37 R, 32 ER, 5 HR, 14 BB, 39 K, 1.486 WHIP, 2-7, 4.04 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 0.9 WAR
Quotable: “We need to see if this injury is going to resurface. As many starts as he can get, appearances, is I think important. He needs to be reliable next year.” — Davey Johnson on Ross Detwiler
2013 analysis: The Nationals had sky-high hopes for Detwiler entering the season, believing the left-hander could build off his strong finish to 2012 that included a fantastic outing in Game 4 of the NLDS. And through his first seven starts, Detwiler was living up to the billing, posting a 2.53 ERA while issuing only eight total walks.
But then came a May 15 start at Dodger Stadium, during which Detwiler tweaked his back trying to cover first base. He wound up spending a month on the DL, and though he returned in mid-June, he wasn’t the same pitcher. Over his next five starts, he went 0-3 with a 6.31 ERA, the back injury again becoming a factor.
The Nationals put Detwiler back on the DL in July, and despite his best attempts, he couldn’t get back on the mound by season’s end, done in by a herniated disc that ultimately turned his 2013 into a lost cause.
2014 outlook: Though Detwiler did make a couple of rehab appearances in Viera at season’s end and reported no back issues, he will be something of a question mark entering spring training. The Nationals are counting on him to be a part of their Opening Day rotation, but they’ll need to see some solid evidence of 100 percent health from him in camp, just to be sure.
Even if healthy, Detwiler may need to make some adjustments on the mound. He became almost exclusively a fastball pitcher this season, throwing it an MLB-high 88 percent of the time. True, Detwiler does throw both a four-seamer and a two-seamer, two different types of pitches. But opponents hit .310 off him this year, perhaps a sign they knew to sit on the fastball.
This will be an important season for Detwiler, who is eligible for free agency after 2015. He needs to prove his breakthrough 2012 campaign was for real, and that his injury-plagued earlier seasons and 2013 were not the norm.
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