Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ross Detwiler's Breakout Season?

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?


  1. I'd love to see Detwiler in the Majors right now. He clearly represents the future whereas four of the five pitchers currently in the rotation do not.

    That said, there is no real incentive for the club to bring him up so long as those other four are still pitching reasonably well. Every day Detwiler spends at Syracuse keeps time off of his arbitration and free agency clocks, which will be hugely important to the club's finances if he really is about to finally live up to his potential. It sucks that those kinds of decisions get made based on dollars, but that's reality.

  2. Canada's #1 Nats FanApril 27, 2011 at 9:35 AM

    Bring Detwiler up now and move one of the starters (Gorzelanny or Lannan) into the pen and DFA Gaudin. We need to start feilding the best team we can in the majors. For that matter bring up Henry Rodriguez now as well.

  3. I agree with bdrube, no need to rush Detwiler when other starters are pitching well. For that matter, why trade Marquis if he's doing well? He's what, 31 or 32? He's been an All-Star several times and could have several more good years left.

    Gorzelanny, unlike Marquis, has had one good year, and it was a few years ago. It should be fine to trade him when he's at peak value.

    As for Lannan, I've always liked him, but he gets by on guile, with neither the "stuff" of Strasburg/Zimmermann or the veteran dependability of Hernandez/Marquis. At best, he could be a decent #4 starter and 10- to 12-game winner. If he looks like that guy, great. If he falters in that, Detwiler should get the call.

  4. "But with Livo, Lannan, Marquis, and Zimmermann, plus a newly acquired Tom Gorzelanny, Detwiler never stood a chance."

    Well there's your problem. If ML-ready pitching prospects are being blocked by the likes of Jason Marquis and Tom Gorzelanny, then someone screwed up big time.

  5. Couldn't agree more Biff.

    Also for Nick, we would trade Marquis because he is good. We have no use for an aging pitcher right now, we need to cash in while the value is high and we can get a solid return. Marquis doesn't fit into our long term plan, Detwiler does.

  6. Is it definite that he will be a starter? I'm ok with him staying where he is for a short time longer to build stamina and make sure he is absolutely healthy. As soon as a starter gets traded/dl/ ineffective - he should be up right away. Is HRod a starter or reliever? -- relievers needed RIGHT NOW!

  7. Detwiler only fits into future plans if he's the pitcher we thought we were drafting. So far, his big league performance has not been encouraging.

    Marquis, on the other hand, has won 12-15 games numerous times, including in Colorado. He'll be 33 in August, not young but hardly Jamie Moyer territory.

    If a juicy trade came along a la Capps-for-Ramos, of course, pull the trigger. But to attract fans and free agents, the Nats need to show serious improvement this year. All I'm saying is, there's value in winning ballgames NOW, as opposed to in 2015.

  8. 2015 will be the 10th anniversary of the