30 Players in 30 Days: Ross Detwiler
Double-A Harrisburg Manager Randy Knorr, the Nationals bullpen coach last season, saw Ross Detwiler grow up before his eyes in 2009. When Detwiler made a start, he wouldn’t talk to anybody and his face was as motionless as a staring contest in a prefight weigh-in. He thought being a Big Leaguer meant you couldn’t have fun. It didn’t quite lead to success and the Nats sent him to Triple-A Syracuse in July. He was called up when the rosters expanded in September and Knorr noticed a difference right away.
“His second time there, he was laughing and joking around with teammates before his starts,” Knorr said. “He understood that doing it the other way wasn’t working.”
After a productive September, the Nationals hoped 2010 would be a breakout season for Detwiler, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2007 draft. That changed in the middle of February when Detwiler underwent preseason surgery on a torn labrum in his right hip. Instead of a breakout season, it was a rehab season.
Detwiler returned to the Majors on July 25 and made three starts. He never felt comfortable or confident in his hip and he returned to the DL on August 8. He returned to the Majors in the beginning of September and pitched well. He threw three scoreless, two inning appearances out of the bullpen and made his first start on September 23. He pitched 6.0 solid innings against the Astros, allowing just two runs. His last start of the season didn’t go as well. He allowed seven runs in 4.2 innings against the Phillies. But don’t get too invested in the statistics.
“Obviously, I’m going to be a lot better in Spring Training with everything completely healed,” Detwiler said after his last start. “It’s not too bad right now. It was major surgery, so it just takes some off-time. There is no structural damage right now.”
Pitching Coach Steve McCatty said he wants to alter his delivery–particularly lengthen his stride–to help alleviate stress on his hip.
“One of the things we are working on is his stride, so he could get a little more leg push,” McCatty said. “When he came back the first time, he had a short stride and put a lot of stress on that hip. We’re trying to get that lead leg out a little further and take out a little bit of the stress.”
Now, the Nats are counting on the cool and calm 24-year-old to be the pitcher they expected when they drafted him and relieve some of the stress on the starting rotation.