The (Other) Other Guys

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Frequent readers of Curly W Live may remember that we already used the title The Other Guys for a piece earlier this year, when detailing many of the overlooked performances in Washington’s three-game road sweep of the Red Sox at Fenway back in June. However, we felt compelled to go back to the well when discussing the recent accomplishments of Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler, and with good reason.

Following Detwiler’s latest gem, a scoreless, seven-inning effort that saw him allow just four hits and three walks while earning his ninth victory, the shaggy-haired southpaw set up shop in front of his locker in the home clubhouse, awaiting the post-game media scrum. As the cameras flipped on their lights and began rolling tape, he pointed over his left shoulder at a small poster that was taped into the upper-right corner.

Things are looking up for Ross Detwiler in the second half of the season.

“Make sure you get that in the shot,” he said with a wry smile.

The poster was a photoshopped version of the movie poster from the buddy cop comedy “The Other Guys,” starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. The image showed two men jumping through the air, double-fisting pistols, with Detwiler and Jackson’s heads (complete with Nationals road caps) plastered over the original stars.

“Edwin’s fiancée emailed them to my fiancée,” explained Detwiler of the origin of the photo. “Then she sent it to me, I forwarded it to (Nats Advance Scouting & Video Coordinator) Erick Dalton and he printed it out for me.”

Sure, the photo is a funny joke, one of the light-hearted pieces of humor that keeps a clubhouse fresh and relaxed during a long season full of both immediate and long-term pressure. But this particular piece meant a little more. Detwiler and Jackson really are those “other guys,” the oft-overlooked pair in the rotation, despite their success this season. To put their value in perspective, try to identify the members of the starting rotation by their ERA, opponents batting average, and strikeout-to-walk rates since the team opened its first homestand of the second half of the season on July 17:

  1. 2.79 ERA (19 ER/61.1 IP), .220 BAA, 2.38 K/BB
  2. 3.41 ERA (23 ER/60.1 IP), .241 BAA, 2.33 K/BB
  3. 2.79 ERA (16 ER/51.2 IP), .226 BAA, 3.65 K/BB
  4. 3.51 ERA (20 ER/51.1 IP), .224 BAA, 3.75 K/BB
  5. 4.28 ERA (23 ER/48.1 IP), .278 BAA, 4.20 K/BB

Honestly, you would have no idea which pitcher was which. Sure, you could try to make some educated guesses, but they would most certainly be guesses, without looking up the numbers yourself. For the sake of time, we’ll just go ahead and tell you that the rotation is listed alphabetically by last name: Detwiler, Gonzalez, Jackson, Strasburg, Zimmermann. The so-called “other guys” share an identical 2.79 ERA in that span. Detwiler owns the lowest opponents batting average, with Jackson’s 62 strikeouts leading the staff over that stretch.

The point, obviously, is to take nothing away from the front end of the rotation, merely to point out that the front of the Nationals rotation never really ends, not when they have other guys like Jackson and Detwiler throwing every fifth day. But even more so, it’s the willingness of those guys to own their role, content with knowing that they will play just as big a part as any of their other rotation mates in Washington’s success down the stretch and into October.

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