Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs left-handed starter Ross Detwiler may not want April to end. It has been a month to remember.
In four starts, Detwiler has gone at least six innings each time, allowed only six total runs, struck out 20 and walked only six. Detwiler has compiled a 2-0 record with a 2.22 ERA. Even more amazing has been his two no decisions. In those two starts, he allowed just two runs in 12 1/3 innings.
In his most recent outing, April 25 at Scranton, Detwiler tossed six and one-third innings, allowing one run with five strikeouts and two walks.
"I felt pretty good," Detwiler said. "I felt like I was getting ahead of a few hitters. I gave up a few little bloopers over the infield mostly on changeups. They were hitting them off the end of the bat. Overall, I was pretty happy holding them to one run against a lineup like that."
Detwiler said he had an outstanding spring training and made a "few necessary adjustments" that have helped him get into a nice groove as the season gets going. A lot was made of Detwiler's across the body delivery when he first arrived in Washington. He worked on the delivery to a point now where he comes more towards the plate.
"It is more of a rhythm more than anything," Detwiler said. "Being able to repeat that rhythm I don't think the whole crossing over thing is that much of an issue. I was watching (Angels right-hander) Jered Weaver throw (the other) night. He crosses over quite a bit and I think he does pretty well."
Weaver is 6-0 with a 0.99 ERA and 49 strikeouts in six starts so far this season for Los Angeles. Detwiler says Weaver's delivery across his body is similar to how he used to throw, making it hard for the hitter to pick up the ball.
"I think it gives him a lot of deception," Detwiler said. "I think he led the major leagues in strikeouts last year and is on his way again this year."
But Detwiler says he is not trying to punch out every hitter and that will help his longevity during each start.
"I am not as worried about the strikeout numbers," Detwiler said. "I pitch more to contact than I have in the past. Doing that you won't get as many strikeouts but you be able to go later in the game because they are swinging earlier and putting the ball in play on earlier pitches."
Last year he worked his way back from a right hip injury which limited him to just right games and five starts with the Nationals. This year that injury and discomfort is erased from memory.
"It is not even a thought anymore," Detwiler said. "I don't even think about ever. It feels 100 percent. It has been about a year and a half since I felt it."
Detwiler has heard some critics call him "injury-prone" because of the hip problem. He says that is completely off-base because this was his only injury ever as a professional.
"I don't understand when people say that somebody is prone to injury," Detwiler said. "I have had one injury as have a lot of other people. I just have a different body type and that doesn't necessarily mean that you are injury-prone. We will just have to see how it goes and prove that I am not injury prone."
On the mound, Detwiler says one reason for his success this season is his ability to mix in his breaking stuff to keep the hitters off balance.
"I have been throwing my changeup as my second pitch," Detwiler said. "I haven't thrown it that much to lefties, but mostly to righties. I think that keeps them off my fastball. Definitely if you throw a changeup first, after that the fastball looks that much harder."
"My third pitch right now is my curveball," Detwiler continued. "I threw more curveballs than changeups (April 25) because I had a better feel for it. I am working on throwing that early in the count for strikes. Then later in the game, after they have seen the fastball two or three times around the lineup, I bury the curveball in the dirt when I am way ahead 0-2 and 1-2."