(Photo Courtesy Gloria Wright/The Post-Standard)
Ross Detwiler's breakout 2011 Spring Training couldn't possibly have come sooner. The 25-year old lefty has had a career marred by hip problems and a looming cloud of being a 6th overall draft pick in the 2007 Amateur Draft, just behind the Rays' David Price and the O's Matt Wieters and before the Giants' LHP Madison Bumgarner and the Braves' phenom Jason Heyward. That's a lot of talent to compete with, and until this season, Rossy D has disappointed far too often.
During spring training, however, Detwiler threw 17 innings (3rd most of any Nats pitcher), giving up just 3 walks, striking out 12, and posting a 2.65 ERA (lowest among potential starters). It wasn't the stats that worked against him this spring, though. It was available roster spots. Almost any other season since 2005, Detwiler would have been a lock for the 25-man roster. But with Livo, Lannan, Marquis, and Zimmermann, plus a newly acquired Tom Gorzelanny, Detwiler never stood a chance.
Detwiler was disappointed, but understood why he didn't make the roster after such a great spring. He continued to prove his worth in Syracuse, the Nats Triple-A affiliate, though. After his 4th start of the season on Monday night against Scranton-Wilkes Barre (my hometown), Detwiler is sporting a 2-0 record, a 2.22 ERA, 20 strikeouts, and 6 walks in 24.1 innings. He's made it at least 6 innings in all 4 starts.
We here at Capitol Baseball are huge Detwiler fans, but we were concerned that he was never going to become the prospect that the Nats signed in 2007. While it's too soon to tell if this is the real Ross, I know we speak for many when we say it's better late than never, right?
Above average starting pitching in DC early this season continues to block Detwiler's promotion to the big club, which is exactly the problem you want to have if you're Mike Rizzo. But if Detwiler continues with this sensational start to the 2011 campaign, you have to imagine it won't be long before the hard-throwing lefty makes his way down the east coast to Washington to help the Nats in some capacity.
It could even become a possibility that the Nats would trade a veteran guy, as we analyzed late last week. Jason Marquis is at the end of his contract and would be perfect trade bait to a contender in late-July. Tom Gorzelanny, even though the Nats just picked him up this season, is arbitration-eligible this coming offseason. It will be his 3rd arbitration, and he could be due for another salary increase. He's currently already making $2.1 million. It could be advantageous to trade Gorzelanny for prospects and have Detwiler replace him as the lefty to round out the rotation.
All of this begs the question, could this finally be Ross Detwiler's breakout season? What do you think, CapBallers?