Bill Ladson of MLB.COM tweeted today that Washington Nationals left-handed pitcher Ross Detwiler will make his first start of the season Sunday in place of injured rookie Luis Atilano.
Detwiler, 24, is returning from a torn hip flexor muscle that forced him to undergo surgery in spring training, causing him to miss the first two months of the season. The young starter was a candidate for a rotation spot entering the 2010 season before being hurt, the former first round pick has posted a 2-2 record with a 2.48 ERA in seven rehab starts for Double-A Harrisburg.
Detwiler's latest rehab start came just two nights ago as the lefty earned the win after pitching seven shutout innings while surrendering only five hits. He struck out seven on the night while walking only one. In seven starts this season Detwiler has 31 strikeouts to seven walks total.
Last season Detwiler had an up-and-down rookie showing, going 1-6 in 15 starts with a 5.00 ERA.
Before Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg came a long, Detwiler was by and large considered the organization's best pitching prospect. He combines a mid-to-low 90's fastball with a very slow curve. Despite early struggles in his professional career, he came on like gangbusters last season after finally mastering control of his 83 MPH changeup.
His return, while surprisingly early, is the first of a string of returns this club has been desperately waiting for since the beginning of the season. While at this point it may be moot in terms of turning the season around, if Detwiler pitches well he will likely be up in the majors for the rest of the season. Regardless of performance, this stretch will go a long way towards helping the talented youngster develop into the pitcher we all hope he can be.
If he does reach his potential, the Nats will have a thrilling young rotation with Strasburg, Zimmerman, and Detwiler.