Throughout the offseason, The Nats Blog will look back at every player’s 2012 season to summarize and analyze his performance, and we’ll look ahead to his possible role in 2013. We’ll go from #1 Steve Lombardozzi all the way to #63 Henry Rodriguez until Spring Training. Enjoy.
For Ross Detwiler, last season was the one that Washington Nationals fans had hoped for since June 2007, when he was drafted sixth overall. His career had really flailed with mediocre appearances and hip injuries, until he took the league by storm as one of the best fifth starters in baseball in 2012.
It was a bit of a coup when Detwiler was named to the 25-man roster at the end of spring training instead of John Lannan. Lannan was widely considered a lock for the rotation, but Dewiler’s impressive end to 2011 and a good spring combined with the reality of remaining minor league options for Lannan and an injured Chien-Ming Wang sealed the deal.
Wang’s return from injury created some uncertainty for Detwiler, and he was moved to the bullpen for about a month. But after Wang’s struggles, Detwiler locked down his spot in the rotation for the rest of the season. He posted career-best numbers as a starter with a 3.40 ERA and 1.223 WHIP. He also did something very unique for a starter at the MLB level. He threw a ton of fastballs.
More than 80% of Detwiler’s pitches were fastballs, five percent higher than his career average. He clearly became comfortable with the pitch, and he even started throwing it harder as a starter, averaging 93 miles per hour on the pitch.
Earlier this offseason, Detwiler signed a one-year deal worth $2.3375 million to avoid arbitration, and it was a well-deserved raise. He was the Nationals' best starter in the postseason, and in just one season, he became an invaluable member of the best pitching rotation in baseball.
Next Year: I expect Detwiler to be the Nats' number four starter in 2013 with Dan Haren sliding into the fifth spot. Assuming Gio Gonzalez starts the season with the Nats, he’ll be in the number two spot, giving the rotation perfect left-right balance if Detwiler takes the four spot.
Up Next: #49 Carlos Maldonado, #51 Michael Gonzalez, #52 Ryan Mattheus