Results tagged ‘ Ryan Vogelsong ’
The Washington Nationals enjoyed unprecedented success in 2012, recording the best record in Major League Baseball. The team relied on the contributions of many different players, whom we will catalogue throughout the offseason as we look ahead to the 2013 campaign. With Election Day behind us, we move to our favorite, politics-based nickname on the team, The National Det himself, Ross Detwiler.
With all the breakout seasons from various members of the Nationals in 2012, it can be easy to overlook just how good Ross Detwiler pitched. In fact, most fans have probably forgotten by this point that John Lannan was expected to occupy Detwiler’s place in the starting rotation until the final day of Spring Training, when the announcement was made that Detwiler had earned his place as the number five starter. And while Detwiler yielded his starting spot temporarily to Chien-Ming Wang upon the latter’s return from the Disabled List, he didn’t remain in the bullpen for long, finishing the year back in the rotation.
The key for Detwiler was finding the right balance of his two fastballs – a lively four-seamer that runs up in the mid-90s and a sinking two-seamer a couple miles-per-hour slower – and his developing off-speed pitches. He found that balance over his best stretch of the season from June 12 to August 2, a period in which he threw 49.2 innings with a 2.17 ERA, and 29 strikeouts to just 11 walks. While the southpaw has never been an overwhelming “strikeout pitcher,” he learned to pitch to contact to a greater degree this season. That helped him to his first career 10-win campaign, along with a huge performance in Game 4 of the National League Division Series.
Detwiler posted very similar overall numbers to those in his 2011 campaign, allowing 8.2 hits, 0.8 homers and 2.8 walks while striking out 5.8 per nine innings (8.6/1.0/2.7/5.6 in ’11). He lowered his WHIP ever so slightly from 1.26 to 1.22. His .241 batting average against ranked 14th among qualifying starters in the National League, just ahead of Ryan Vogelsong and Edwin Jackson, and also lower than rotation-mate Jordan Zimmermann.
Off the field, Detwiler and Jackson happily adopted the moniker of “The Other Guys” during the season, as the two members of the rotation happy to stay out of the wake of publicity surrounding Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Zimmermann. His easy-going, light-hearted personality allowed him to stay even-keeled through the rotation debates and the ebbs and flows throughout the year.
Although Detwiler pitched just 66.0 Major League innings in 2011, his combined total, including his Triple-A workload, was 153.1 frames. He topped that by 11.0 innings in 2012, not signifying a significant increase, but obviously held up fairly well at the end of the year, if Game 4 of the NLDS was any indication. Detwiler’s left arm should be well prepared to handle another increase in innings as a full-time starter in 2013, when he will enter his first year of arbitration. The Nationals have the 26 year-old southpaw under team control through the 2015 season.
It happens all the time in sports. There are certain players that simply seem to play their best against one particular team. Nationals fans can certainly attest to the head-scratching numbers put up by Andrew McCutchen or Hanley Ramirez against their team over the years. But through the first four of six matchups between the Nationals and San Francisco Giants this year, something truly inexplicable has happened. Washington has thoroughly dominated San Francisco, specifically their starting rotation, considered by many as the Giants most obvious strength.
The Giants staff is a lot like the Nats – they don’t often have bad days, and even when they do, they manage to limit the damage. But for whatever reason, Washington has had San Francisco’s number this year. Ryan Vogelsong, who had not allowed more than four runs in a game all season, was tagged for nine (eight earned) in just 2.2 innings of work on Monday night. He had not thrown less than 6.0 innings in a start all year long, and was coming off a 7.0-inning, three-hit masterpiece in a win over the Cardinals. Even more ludicrous, he had allowed just 12 earned runs at home all season before last night’s romp.
Meanwhile, the next two starters in this series – Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum – each had their worst outings of the season when the teams met earlier this year in D.C. Bumgarner allowed seven earned in that series opener and Lincecum was tagged for eight runs (seven earned) as he did not escape the fourth inning. In fact, including the series finale in which they came back against Matt Cain and walked off in the bottom of the ninth, the Nats have outscored the Giants 38-14 over their four matchups this year.
There’s almost no rational way to explain it. Of course, the Nationals know they’ll have to be at their best again the next two days as they face Bumgarner and Lincecum. They will counter with new NL ERA leader Jordan Zimmermann (who took over the top spot after Vogelsong’s outing Monday night) and Stephen Strasburg, both coming off dominant performances against the Astros and Diamondbacks, respectively.
That task must look even more daunting for the Giants when you consider the following: the Washington offense has scored more runs since the All-Star break than any team in baseball. On Monday night, the Nationals leap-frogged both the Cardinals and Yankees and now possess the game’s biggest run differential, having scored 108 times more than their opponents. They have won nine of their last 10 and 13 of 15 on the road, where they are 40-22, a full seven wins more than the next closest teams in the majors (Reds and Yankees, 33).
But the Nationals stand at a historic crossroads as they enter play on Tuesday. It marks the first time this season that they have been as many as 5.5 games ahead in the National League East. That separation also matches the most that the 2005 team ever approached, after a 5-4 win on July 3 at Wrigley Field left them at 50-31. Of course, we are five big weeks later in the season and this edition of the Nationals sits a full 28 games over .500 at 72-44.
Nevertheless, in a season full of milestones, this is one of the biggest yet, as ultimately, it is the only one that really matters when it comes to determining just how long the Nationals will be playing baseball this year. If they can continue to perform as they have against a playoff caliber team in the Giants, they may find themselves in truly uncharted territory.