The Nationals have more left-handers in their bullpen than right-handers.
The southpaws: Sean Burnett, Ross Detwiler, Michael Gonzalez and Tom Gorzelanny build a bond as many left-handers do, comparing pitches and game strategies.
Detwiler came into a tough situation Tuesday. With starter Chien-Ming Wang struggling from the first three batters on, Detwiler and Gonzalez got the feeling they could be called upon earlier than usual.
Although Detwiler has been a starter for most of his career, he is quickly getting acclimated to his new role. And in a key moment before Detwiler was put in the game, Gonzalez had some words of advice for the hard throwing lefty.
Detwiler said Gonzalez told him to work on keeping up the “tempo that I have, get into a rhythm and really just trusting myself. We kind of went over a couple of hitters and he was trying to say how he faced them in the past and how to pitch them.”
Gonzalez said what makes Detwiler a good pitcher is how quickly he picks up information. Coupled with powerful stuff on the hill, he can be tough for hitters to figure out.
“He is quick to make adjustments,” Gonzalez said. “Obviously, you see his stuff is off the charts, a lefty throwing mid-90s with his stuff, he should be successful. He is picking and choosing and doing a great job.”
Detwiler said keeping his tempo on a quicker pace is the adjustment he needed after high pitch counts early in his starts in April and May.
“I think that was the No. 1 thing,” Detwiler said. “It is easier to pitch when you are ahead in the count rather than being behind. My last three starts I was behind in every single count and that is that (makes my stuff that) much easier to hit.”
Gonzalez said he wasn’t specific as to how to get Carlos Pena or B.J. Upton out.
“It was more of a general base,” Gonzalez said. “If he does what we were talking about it doesn’t matter who is up there.”
Gonzalez believed that Detwiler maybe didn’t realize what kind of stuff he had and how hard it is for hitters to make good contact. So he told his fellow southpaw to attack.
“With a guy like that, you go right after people,” Gonzalez said. “You see that from (Rays starter David) Price. I don’t see how (Detwiler and Price) are any different. They are both in the mid-90s and have great stuff. Be aggressive with it, don’t try to play with these guys, your stuff is better than most of the guys. Go out there and be aggressive with it.”
3 2/3 innings of no hits, no walks and three strikeouts indicates Detwiler did just that.
So does Detwiler believe that he should be a starter again after another solid performance?
“No,” Detwiler said. “I am where I am now and I got to get comfortable with that. That is the only way I am going to throw well. I know further down the road there is a good chance I will be back (to starting), whether it be next year or whenever it will be. I am starting to get comfortable down in the bullpen. I am feeding off the guys.”
Gonzalez’s food for thought paid dividends for Detwiler on Tuesday. That will certainly help the Nationals down the road.