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Detwiler glad to be facing live hitters again

Feb 24, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT

AP AP

VIERA, Fla. — Ross Detwiler hasn’t faced big-league hitters since July, when a lingering back injury prematurely ended his 2013 season. So Sunday’s live batting practice session, while baring scant resemblance to a major-league ballgame, did represent a significant step for the left-hander.

“I think anytime you see a hitter in there, especially if you know he’s got a chance of swinging, it kind of gives you that competitive nature a little bit,” he said. “In the bullpen, everything looks good, but you’ve got to see how a hitter reacts to know if it’s any good.”

The reactions of those who were in the batter’s box — Wilson Ramos, Mike Fontenot, Jeff Kobernus — suggested Detwiler’s stuff was good.

Particularly notable was Detwiler’s cutter, a new pitch he is adding this spring in an attempt to keep hitters off-balance. After throwing 88 percent fastballs last season, he realized he needed to add something else to his repertoire. The cutter serves as a counter-balance to his naturally sinking fastball, this one breaking in on the hands of right-handed batters.

“Give them another look,” he explained. “I’ve been kind of having the same look the last few years. Now they know kind of what to expect. I want to try to throw something else out there. Just another look to open things up if I want to go back to the fastball or whatever.”

Manager Matt Williams believes the addition of the cutter will make Detwiler’s regular fastball all the more effective.

“I always look at it from a hitter’s perspective,” he said. “As a hitter, I always wanted to eliminate one side of the plate. So if I can eliminate him coming into me as a right-handed hitter, I’m going to have more success. But if he can throw that cutter in there, then he’s equally effective on both sides and it just makes it more difficult for the hitter to square a ball up and feel comfortable.”

  1. ehay2k - Feb 24, 2014 at 6:49 AM

    Ross really needed another pitch, as several people here have pointed out. That will help him get through the order more than once or twice. But he also seemed to tire easily.
    How are his weight and stamina? Is he getting enough cookies?

    • ArVAFan - Feb 24, 2014 at 6:54 AM

      The Washington Post yesterday had a long article on the players and their weights (and weight strategies) before, during and off-season. Zimmerman seemed to be the one player who manages to keep his weight steady without obsessing about it. Wonder if he’ll still be able to do that after he passes 30?

  2. Section 222 - Feb 24, 2014 at 8:53 AM

    I sure hope Det realized he needed another pitch long before the end of last season. If he didn’t, he’s either really dense or really stubborn. But realizing you need it is a lot different than having it. So maybe he needed the long injury layoff and the offseason to develop the pitch. If it’s effective, he could be really, really good this year.

    • natinalsgo - Feb 24, 2014 at 9:21 AM

      That’s been a Nats discussion point for the last 2 off-seasons that both Det and Gio could use another pitch and Det needs it more than Gio.

      • David Proctor - Feb 24, 2014 at 9:21 AM

        I don’t think Gio needs another pitch.

      • natinalsgo - Feb 24, 2014 at 9:55 AM

        David, you are right as always. Gio doesn’t NEED another pitch but he should want another pitch as he is a 2 1/2 pitch guy with fastball and curveball and he will throw the changeup about 10% of the time. The changeup could be used more and make him better and help get him deeper in games.

        When Ramos came back he had Gio throwing more changeups which is a good sign of things to come.

        By the way, Stasburg didn’t NEED to add a cutter.

    • Candide - Feb 24, 2014 at 11:55 AM

      Last season, Det had a “meet the fans” press conference in the Stars and Stripes club before a game. I noted that “the word on the street is you like throwing your fastball” (he smiled at that), “but do you have any plans to add anything else to what you throw?”

      He said he and McCatty had been working on adding a pitch. As it turned out, this was about a week before he went down for the season, so we never saw anything.

  3. natinalsgo - Feb 24, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    sjm, in reading your comment over the weekend, my opinion is that Espinosa was better than Rendon defensively last year and I didn’t read one comment that said otherwise.

    People can compliment Rendon’s defense without people flipping out as if that’s an insult against Espinosa.

    • sjm308 - Feb 24, 2014 at 9:27 AM

      I was responding to another poster who used some sort of UZR ratings to show that Rendon had better “numbers” than Espinosa. I don’t think I flipped out but that’s up to you. What I am not a big fan of is using numbers to prove someone’s defense is better than another. I am guessing you missed the original post by nats128 ( at least I think that’s who posted it). Again, i LOVE Rendon as our starting 2nd baseman for many reasons. But my hope is that Espionsa has some sort of major attitude change, along with improved offensive approach to help this team as our backup infielder.

      • natinalsgo - Feb 24, 2014 at 9:41 AM

        Let us hope Espinosa can become a good backup infielder and pinch hitter.

        He can use Jamey Carroll as a mentor. Carroll went from over-aged Minor League player to an effective MLB bench player debuting at 28 years old and had to fight his way on to rosters then became a starter at age 32 with over 500 ABs for the first time in his career!

      • Faraz Shaikh - Feb 24, 2014 at 10:35 AM

        totally agree. I have same hopes of Danny.

  4. habs3 - Feb 24, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    Question:

    It is my understanding that Det was drafted based on a major league ready curve ball. I am curious why he ditched that pitch and only focused on his fastball. You would think that the pitching coaches would have encouraged or insisted that he maintain the curve. It looks like he has come full circle and wasted, to some extent, all these years. Something does not make sense here.

    • natinalsgo - Feb 24, 2014 at 10:15 AM

      Detwiler had so much success at the end of 2012 with his repertoire in which he almost abandoned his breaking pitch that he started 2013 the same way.

      I’m in the group that believes the league adjusted to him and it looked like batting practice as they sat on fastballs.

      • dcsportsfan2277 - Feb 24, 2014 at 5:04 PM

        Yup…even if you move that fastball around hitters will adjust as they have proven last year. He has a good curve and now adding a effective cutter only makes him a more complete pitcher. I still like him out of the bullpen but if he pitches his way into the rotation it won’t hurt my feelings :)

        Go Nats!

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