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Posted at 1:50 PM ET, 03/ 6/2011

Detwiler impressive in start versus Braves

By Dave Sheinin

Ross Detwiler proved on Sunday that, while Tom Gorzelanny holds the upper hand in the race for the Nationals' fifth starter job, and Chien-Ming Wang would get a clear shot at it if he could get himself healthy, it is Detwiler who remains the most intriguing rotation candidate in this camp. The lefty struck out five batters, including his last four in a row, during a three-inning stint against the Atlanta Braves, allowing only one hit and an unearned run.

Detwiler, who also turned 25 today, allowed only one hard-hit ball -- a double into the gap in right-center by Alex Gonzalez, which turned into an out when a Jayson Werth Nyjer Morgan-Danny Espinosa-Wilson Ramos relay nailed Jason Heyward at the plate trying to score from first. Gonzalez later scored on an error by Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, who threw wildly past first baseman Michael Aubrey. (Can't blame that one on Adam Dunn, can we?)

I'll have more on Detwiler after speaking with him in a little while.

UPDATE, 3:55 p.m.: Detwiler said he continues to grow more comfortable with his new delivery, citing as the biggest difference his ability to pound fastballs inside to hitters.

"I remember a few times last year trying to throw an inside fastball and leaving it over the plate, and it's either a home run or it's in the gap or something," he said. "So I think I'm really able to drive the ball inside now."

Detwiler induced several awkward swings from Braves hitters on Sunday, something that rarely occurred last year. "I didn't get an awkward swing last year," he said. "I got a lot of contact last year."

Manager Jim Riggleman acknowledged how difficult it would be, if Detwiler continues pitching as he has, to leave out of the rotation a left-handed power arm such as his. But there is still a long way to go in the spring.

"That's the great thing about coming in here with more than five starters," Riggleman said. "There are seven or eight guys [in the mix], and he's one of them. He's certainly going to make it a tough decision for us. But everybody is going to get more and more outings. And really, every starter has thrown good. [John] Lannan has thrown good. [Jordan] Zimmermann has thrown good. [Jason] Marquis has thrown good. [Chad] Gaudin has thrown good. [Detwiler is] right there at the top of the list. But nobody's pitched themselves out of a slot just yet."

By Dave Sheinin  | March 6, 2011; 1:50 PM ET
 
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Comments

Dave, wasn't the double in the gap fielded by Morgan? I distinctly remember the weak one hop throw to Espinosa, and Espinosa throwing a bead right on target to Ramos.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 6, 2011 2:47 PM | Report abuse

You're right. It was Morgan and his throw was not impressive. Espinosa's on the other hand was great.

Posted by: marathoner | March 6, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Dunn saved more with his size and reach than he cost them. While LaRoche is still an upgrade, Aubrey should have had Desmond's throw and Dunn would have reached it easily. I'm in Viera and was there.

Posted by: truke | March 6, 2011 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Gorzelanny is purely an assumption, as he has yet to post a ST inning - As of today, I'd still have both Detwiler & Maya above him in the rotation possibles. After the first week, I see it as Livo / Marquis / Zimmermann / Lannan / Maya / Detwiler, but there's still a ways to go in ST.

Posted by: BinM | March 6, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Gorzelanny can face the four aces the Phillies have with a shot at winning. So, too would it appear can Ross Detwiler if he keeps throwing the way he has this spring. This is what Rizzo et al have been hoping for from both Detwiler and Zimmermann.

Guys like Marquis, Hernandez and even Lannan aren't going to be a match for the first four Phillies or Giants starters. One as a #5 starter is sufficient but three pitch to contact soft-tossers? That is not the way to get to .500 and can only invoke the glee of guys like Poopy McPoop and perhaps Ben Goessling.

Posted by: periculum | March 6, 2011 4:26 PM | Report abuse

As weird as it might sound, I'm ok with ATL beating the Nationals with their A- roster (6 of 8 expected starters) against our B-/C+ roster (4 of 8 expected starters.

Posted by: BinM | March 6, 2011 4:42 PM | Report abuse

"Dunn saved more with his size and reach than he cost them."

This can't really be true, can it?

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | March 6, 2011 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Way to go, Ross! Its amazing what working out in the off-season can do, huh? Do you think you'll work out in the off-season next winter, Ross? Do ya, huh? Hey, maybe try working out ALL YEAR, Ross!

Posted by: shred11 | March 6, 2011 5:07 PM | Report abuse

"Dunn saved more with his size and reach than he cost them."
This can't really be true, can it?

______________________________________________________________

Not in the least. Michael Aubrey showed excellent range at first
base. Desmond has a cannon for an arm but he continues his
habit of attempting hurried throws on the run off balance. No one was getting to the ball he almost heaved into the dugout and probably would have ended up there were it not for Aubrey.

Its why so many Nats prospects watchers prefer Espinosa's more accurate and sure arm at shortstop and Desmond at the more forgiving position at second base.

Posted by: periculum | March 6, 2011 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Today's Riggleman quote:
"[John] Lannan has thrown good. [Jordan] Zimmermann has thrown good. [Jason] Marquis has thrown good. [Chad] Gaudin has thrown good."

Rig's no grammatical Casey Stengel, but he delivered a managerial hat trick there.

Posted by: aaaron | March 6, 2011 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Its why so many Nats prospects watchers prefer Espinosa's more accurate and sure arm at shortstop and Desmond at the more forgiving position at second base.

Posted by: periculum
========================================
Maybe so, but what would Desmond have done with that Morgan-to-Espi-to-Wilson relay? Instead of nipping the runner at the plate, he might well have heaved it into the broadcast booth...

Ditto what BinM had to say above. Played the Braves tough until the late innings, with only half the team on the field that we'll see opening day.

Morgan is getting seriously worrisome. He's coming up on 1-for-20 this spring, with the one being a bunt single. It was nice to see him hit the cutoff man for once today, but seriously, what does he bring to the table that Bernadina doesn't?

Posted by: gilbertbp | March 6, 2011 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I caught the game here in the A-T-L on the mlb network with Bob and the new guy, Detweiler looked good but that was about it as far as the Nat's are concerned. The Braves have a lot of talent at the minor league level and they are going to be a serious threat to Philly this season in the NL East. I think Nyjer going return to his 09 form; i predict .290/55 steals/50 rbi/.

Posted by: dargregmag | March 6, 2011 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Were you there, Periculum?

Posted by: truke | March 6, 2011 6:56 PM | Report abuse

It went nowhere near the dugout, barely dribbled 10 feet away as Aubrey tried to uncross his feet. He almost fell on his butt on the bag. It was right in front of me. Please.

Posted by: truke | March 6, 2011 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Hey Nats Fans!

I liked the new announcer, he seems pretty safe...LOL, I sure miss Dibble though! Wish they could fit 3 in that booth!

Go Nats!

Posted by: patsgrill4U | March 6, 2011 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Last one, I keep going back and forth between sites. Aubrey also should have had Zim's throw earlier on a great play he made diving to his left.

Posted by: truke | March 6, 2011 7:01 PM | Report abuse

"It went nowhere near the dugout, barely dribbled 10 feet away as Aubrey tried to uncross his feet. He almost fell on his butt on the bag. It was right in front of me. Please."

MASN close ups showed the ball at least 15 feet into right field away from the bag. Did you have a close up and repeat loop so that you could view the instant replay. Please if you've never played baseball? Aubrey also made an unbelievably good play on a grounder while holding a runner ... an almost impossible thing to do ... he grabbed a ball that normally would have gone through to Espinosa and made an easy play on the man going to second base. Something Dunn couldn't even attempt.

Get a grip dude. Aubrey is going to Syracuse along with Frazier and Marerro. That's going to be a pretty decent AAA International League contender.

Posted by: periculum | March 6, 2011 7:13 PM | Report abuse

I liked how Detwiler was hanging around the corners, in and out. That's it baybee - stay on the corners! He looked like he commanded 90, but couldn't throw 93 anywhere near the plate. That'll probably change as he gets his arm into shape. But he's staying on top with his delivery, and it gives his offspeed stuff so much more hard action. Down, especially. And like Livan just said, 'I'm concentrating on staying down'.

Posted by: Brue | March 6, 2011 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Well Periculum, I actually did play through college and have coached and played off and on since (35 years). I don't know how you can measure depth or distance on a two-dimensional image, but if you'd like to share I'd love to know.

I've got nothing against Mike Aubrey but he should have had it and should have had Zim's throw. I also heard all the griping about Dunn last year but still maintain that he saved as many as he blew not due to any great ability but simply by being 6-6 or 6-7. I shudder to think of what might happen this year with Zim throwing at a smaller target.

Posted by: truke | March 6, 2011 8:12 PM | Report abuse

"nobody's pitched themselves out of a slot just yet."
-------------------------------------------------------

Exactly. That's what the regular season is for.

Posted by: fischy | March 7, 2011 1:28 AM | Report abuse

Looking for samples? I received the sample quickly. Thanks to "123 Get Samples" for the samples. I can't wait to get another in the mail!

Posted by: ritahudgins123 | March 7, 2011 1:55 AM | Report abuse

Truke sez "Dunn saved more with his size and reach than he cost them."
---------
After that statement, your judgement will forever be suspect around here. Ya might want to leave the crack pipe alone for a while.

Posted by: shanks1 | March 7, 2011 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Where an historically injury-prone starting rotation is concerned, it's sure a lot better lamenting over who we've got to cut than over who we've got to keep, like we've had to do the past few years.

And Nyjer's throw on that double play was perfectly fine. It seems a lot of folks simply don't much like our Nyjer and revel in finding fault where none is present.

Hey, the guy's in a slump. Give him a break. He'll come out of it, hopefully with a vengeance. Even slumping, his fiery spirit is an asset to the team.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | March 7, 2011 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Nice to hear about Detwiler's performance but it's a long exhibition season..consistency is the key for pitchers...and let's keep all those flops from last year, particularly the injured ones on a very short leash...

Love those one year contracts some have...either prove yourself this year or go home...


Posted by: pentagon40 | March 7, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

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