Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Game 4 Recap: Detwiler defines the word Irony with 6 strong innings


Detwiler shuts down the Cards in Game 4. Photo Haraz Ghanbari/AP via

The movie The Matrix has been on the movie channel rerun cycle lately, so if I may quote the character Morpheus, “Life it seems is not without a sense of irony.”  The irony of Ross Detwiler being the guy who bails out the Nats with his stellar Game 4 outing is this; had Stephen Strasburg been active, it would most likely have been Detwiler who would have made way in the rotation.  Instead he (finally) gave the Nats an effective start, going 6 innings, allowing just 3 hits and an un-earned run in the Nats 2-1 walk-off win.

Using a sinking fastball with great effect, Detwiler controlled the powerhouse St. Louis offense and kept the ball on the ground; 11 of his 18 outs recorded were ground ball outs.  He was slightly wild on the night (3 walks and only 59 of his 104 pitches for strikes) but umpire Jim Joyce‘s wide and varying strike zone helped both pitchers put up excellent lines on the night.  Detwiler, the least experienced of any of our starters and a guy who most thought wouldn’t even be in the rotation this year (I certainly didn’t think so as spring training unfolded), was the one guy who has stepped up and pitched to his capabilities.

The game of course will be remembered for Jayson Werth‘s fantastic 13 pitch at-bat, culminating with a walk-off home-run off Lance Lynn for what had to be one of the more memorable games in the team’s brief history.  Good for Werth and great for this team.  I’ve already got the image saved as an iconic moment in this franchise.

Other odds-and-ends:

  • Thanks for pre-empting the game for an HOUR, TBS.  This was an unanticipated problem of trying to DVR the game and watch it later.  In addition to avoiding all social media, news sites and phone alerts so as not to have the game outcome spoiled, now I may have to start taping on multiple channels.  So I completely missed the first four innings.   Hence not so much analysis of Detwiler’s outing.
  • How about Jordan Zimmermann in the first relief appearance of his major league career?  He was throwing harder than I’ve ever seen him throw; touching 97 on more than a few occasions.  His mph was no stadium gun hype either: pitch f/x shows a max of 97.2 and an average of 96.73 for Zimmermann.   Meanwhile, here’s the pitch f/x data for his start on 10/8: average 94.08, max of 95.6.    That’s 1.6 mph more on his max effort fastball.  He absolutely mowed down the heart of the St. Louis order (aided again by a questionable strike 3 call on Matt Holliday that just left him laughing).  I figured Zimmermann was going for more than an inning, with Davey Johnson perhaps thinking the game might go long.  Instead, it seems he was playing the odds that Craig Stammen wasn’t up for the task.
  • Meanwhile, how about 9 straight punch outs to end the game?  It was refreshing to “remember” what the back-end of this bullpen is capable of.

This is the Nats pitching effort we’ve been accustomed to, and have waited for all series.  Now, suddenly, would you bet against this team in Game 5?  We have talked a lot about momentum and how the Nats had little heading into the post-season; they’ve certainly got it now.  Adam Wainwright should regress back towards the mean from his Game 1 start, and Gio Gonzalez should “egress” back towards his form of the bulk of the season.  Game 5 could be a pretty special experience.

11 Responses to 'Game 4 Recap: Detwiler defines the word Irony with 6 strong innings'

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  1. That was a gutsy game by Detwiler. With all the pressure in the world on his shoulders and no offense behind him, that kid stood tall.

    Now, let me preface this by stating that I am assuming nothing about tonight’s outcome. I think the Nats have the edge on paper, but the Cards still have all the intangibles (5-0 in elimination games over past two seasons). So I’m not jumping the gun, but since the Cards could win tonight, this may be the only chance I have to ask this question: If the Nats do win tonight, what is the starting rotation going into the LCS?

    Ideally, you’d go Gio, Z’mann, Detwiler, and Jackson, in that order. But with Gio going tonight and Detwiler last night, I think you’d have to pitch Jackson in Game 1 on Sunday night (meaning he’d also start Game 5). After that, whoever goes will be on short rest, but I think Game 2 (and Game 6) would have to be Z’mann. He had a short outing this week, plus a one-inning relief appearance last night. After that, you’re back on track with Gio in Game 3 (and Game 7) and Detwiler for Game 4. This is less than ideal, of course. I’d prefer not to have Jackson starting twice, and after his outing yesterday I hate the idea of only having Detwiler for one game in the LCS.

    Anyway, this is all food for thought, because tonight’s game is going to be very, very tight. Just wanted to know what you thought.


    12 Oct 12 at 10:56 am

  2. It was technically only 8 strike outs by the bullpen. I only bring it up because we gotta give some credit to Ian Desmond on his over the shoulder run saving catch to end the top of the ninth. That was a heck of a play that really show the magnitude of his range. If he misses it there is no way Morse makes it to the ball and with Kozma running on the pitch he probably scores easily. Werth’s walkoff isn’t a walkoff anymore and the entire game is changed.


    12 Oct 12 at 11:25 am

  3. Clark I think if it makes it to the next round Game 1 goes to Jordan. His appearance yesterday simply took the place of his in between start bullpen session. That would mean we would probably see this rotation.

    Zimmermann – Game 1
    Jackson – Game 2

    Gio – Game 3
    Detwiler – Game 4
    Zimmerman – Game 5

    Games 6 and 7 would be up in the air with Gio possibly going in game 6 on short rest if the situation is an elimination game. Granted that is all hypothetical since they have to win tonight still.


    12 Oct 12 at 11:33 am

  4. Gio goes tonight, then 4 days rest puts him to throw Game 3 and Game 7. Zimmermann games 1 and 5, Jackson 2 and 6. Which sucks because I think you’d have to say we’d want Detwiler to go twice in an NLDS instead of Jackson. The extra off-days let you have some flexibility to manipulate but it is what it is; we’re going to see Jackson before we see Gio in an NLCS.
    Keeping everyone on regular rest means Zimmermann game 1 (he’d have 5 days rest actually), Jackson game 2 (4 days rest), Gio game 3 (4 days rest), Detwiler game 4 (5 days rest).

    SF seems to be slightly weaker against righties than lefties. They also hit much better on the road than at home. ATT seems to slightly favor right handed hitters as well. So perhaps its ok that Jackson goes twice instead of Detwiler … except for the fact that Detwiler clearly looked the best of any of our starters thus far…

    Todd Boss

    12 Oct 12 at 12:40 pm

  5. Yeah, wrote that too fast last night and missed the edit. Will correct. Great play by Desmond absolutely … didn’t mean to diminish it by not mentioning, just focused on the pitching and the walkoff.

    Todd Boss

    12 Oct 12 at 12:41 pm

  6. I can’t see Gio going on 3 days rest; just looked it up and he’s NEVER made a pro start on 3 days rest.

    Todd Boss

    12 Oct 12 at 12:46 pm

  7. One note on possible rotations for the next series, if there is one. I think the Nats get to make roster changes so there’s a chance they’d include Lannan this go around. That way, they would have another option instead of EJax going twice, or someone pitching on short rest. That would probably mean dropping Gorzelanny, since Lannan could also perform the leftie, long-relief role.


    12 Oct 12 at 1:03 pm

  8. Not to be argumentative, but what makes you think the team would prefer Lannan to get a start over any of the existing 4 guys who started all year? Or, why choose Lannan over Gorzelanny at this point in the season? If Lannan was a better option over any existing starter or over Gorzelanny, wouldn’t we have seen that choice made at some point in the season? I don’t see it; the team has 4 established starters and if anything Jackson’s nlds start wasn’t even the worst of the first three guys. 5ip 4 runs, 3 of which came on a mistake pitch. The only argument would be that Lannan has some super-human ability over the Giants; but how much credence do you give to starts over a team in previous years? He has zero apperances against the Giants in 2012.

    Todd Boss

    12 Oct 12 at 1:29 pm

  9. You are probably right. What I meant by the comment was really just that they may want an additional option to start given a 7 game series. That way, if you are faced with elimination in game 5 say, and use Ejax in relief like they did with Znn last night, you still have someone to fill in later. When they’ve needed a spot starter, they’ve turned to Lannan over Gorzelanny in the key situations. So if they decide to have 5 starters on the roster, Lannan is probably the guy, and if he’s on, then Gorzelanny is probably off since he fills the same role. But they will probably stick with just 4 starters.


    12 Oct 12 at 1:39 pm

  10. The way the off-days work into the post-season schedule, if anything there’s TOO many days off and the guys get too much rest. I had links to the post-season schedule and the potential days-rest if the team just keeps everyone in the same order and both Zimmermann and Detwiler will get 5 days rest b/c of travel days. I think Zimmermann appeared in relief because it was his “throw day” between starts, just as Jackson’s throw day would be tomorrow and he’ll likely be available for long relief out of the pen.

    The team used Lannan as a spot starter b/c Gorzelanny has basically been turned into a long man and can’t suddenly go 6 innings. In his spot start at the end of the season he only threw what 3 innings? Same with Stammen; once a starter, now a reliever, and these guys need time to re-condition their arms to convert back to starters. Honestly, Gorzelanny’s usage pattern this whole year was basically as mop-up guy … the guy who saves your bullpen in blow-out situations. Maybe the nats score 10 runs in the first inning and we get to see Gorzelanny tonight.

    Todd Boss

    12 Oct 12 at 2:19 pm

  11. If the Nats advance, I’m okay with Jax in Game 1 or 2 of the LCS. I’d prefer Det, but I just have a hunch that Jax is due for one of his dominant outings soon. I know opinions vary, but I’m a strong opponent of pitching guys on short rest—and I especially wouldn’t do it with Gio, who seems even more of a creature of habit than most starting pitchers. The reason I’m feeling okay about tonight is that Gio’s on normal rest this time.

    Todd, I’m with pdowdy and you on this. 1-Z’mann, 2-Jackson, 3-Gio, 4-Det, 5-Z’mann, 6-Jackson, 7-Gio. I’m fine with that. Pitching Z’mann in 1 and 5 is particularly useful if the series went 7 games, because both Det and Jordan could come out of the pen, if needed. By the way, I really liked what I saw from Jordan last night. He looked like he was hungry for a chance to redeem himself against a team that dominates him. I like that kind of burning confidence in a pitcher. His fastball looked like it should have a vapor trail behind it.


    12 Oct 12 at 2:24 pm

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