Ross Detwiler returns to the Nationals starting rotation tonight, though probably not for long. As a result, Collin Balester got screwed once again and got sent back down to Syracuse to make roster space for Rossy D. Don't expect Bally to stay down long though. Davey Johnson sounded quite impressed with his 7 inning relief appearance after Marquis had his most recent implosion.
Last season, Detwiler started 5 games to fairly disappointing results. In 3 of those 5 starts, he didn't make it through 5 innings. He gave up 22 runs (14 earned) in 23.2 innings for an inflated 5.32 ERA. He stranded just under 60% of runners, and hitters had a .307 average against. He fared much better in 3 relief appearances, though, giving up no earned runs in 6 innings (2 innings/appearance). He stranded all runners and opposing hitters threw up just a .158 average.
Tonight, we expect to see the starting pitcher of 2010, not the reliever. Why, besides the obvious "because he's starting" thing? Because Detwiler hasn't even come close to dominating the competition in AAA Syracuse. He's put up a mediocre 4.32 ERA in 87.1 innings. He's struck out a decent number of batters (6.49 K/9), but he's also walked far too many (3.30 BB/9). Opponents BABIP is an inflated .336; luckily, the Nats will put a pretty great defense behind him this evening.
Our main concern is what we wrote about last month: velocity. Detwiler has struggled to break 90 mph with his fastball and has a change up that hovers around 85 mph. That kind of difference may fool AA and even some AAA talent, but it certainly isn't going to fool anyone (besides Ian Desmond) in the major leagues. We think that there's a good shot that Detwiler will get lit up early and often by the Cubs aging, but still fairly talented, lineup. We hope we're wrong, because deep down, we're still big Rossy D guys and want him to succeed. We're more than a little concerned about the results of tonight's start, though, especially without a true long-reliever available in the 'pen.
What do you think, CapBallers? Is Ross in line for more pain as a starter? Does he have a future as a reliever? Should they unload him before his body completely breaks down? Sound off in the comments!