With left-hander Ross Detwiler throwing not one, but four scoreless innings this week for Team USA, you have to admire how far the 26-year-old has come in a year and a half, and how crucial his pitching is to the Nationals' rotation.
Detwiler allowed just one hit in those four innings. Manager Joe Torre had enough confidence in the southpaw to go out and let him finish the ninth frame for the save. Detwiler has shown with international experience in the Taiwan series last year and now the World Baseball Classic that he is not a one-trick pony. His performance in the playoff game against the Cardinals last season also demonstrates that he can come up big in big games.
You have to believe, even if he is pegged as the fifth starter, he is really pitching like a fourth starter. If Dan Haren can return close to his consistent ways while he was with the A's and Diamondbacks, then you have a staff with Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Detwiler and Haren to calm NL East bats in April and May and get off to a good start.
* Following last week's Nationals-Phillies game in which Chase Utley was hit by a pitch and then veteran Roy Halladay threw behind Tyler Moore, you get the feeling the Phillies have a real uneasy feeling about the Nationals being so good and still with a youthful roster.
Fresh off their first NL East title and multiple comments from Jimmy Rollins, it really looks like the once king of the division Phillies don't appreciate having their crown knocked off their head again and again.
And watching Mexico-Canada turn in a late-inning melee, I wondered if the Nationals might be close to having a bench-clearing brawl in a game with a NL East opponent next season.
Last season, the Cubs dugout apparently did not appreciate the way the Nationals were being aggressive on the basepaths in a game. Going through a very difficult season, one of the Cubs coaches started barking at then-Nationals (and current Astros manager) Bo Porter. Porter then went over to the Cubs dugout and let their coach have it.
Not one of the Cubs or their coaches even approached the steps or the field to come back at Porter. The moment gave the Nationals that undeniable intimidation factor, real or imagined, that teams go seasons trying to find. It also set the tone that D.C. was a team people were trying to catch instead of what it had always been. If the Nats weren't any good, the Cubs presumably would not have cared, really.
So my question is, will it be the Phillies, or maybe the Braves or even the Cardinals, that the Nationals could very well face in a dustup next season? The Nationals have the young, fireball-throwing staff that is envied by several organizations. There could be a moment where a pitch gets a way from a National or an opponent, and a mound charge might be in the offing. The Phillies look like the logical choice as the foe, but which team do you think it might be?
* The Potomac Nationals have rescheduled their job fair for March 13 and 14 from 5-8 p.m. at Pfitzner Stadium. Positions available this season include:
-Concessions stand manager
-Picnic area cooks/servers
-Box office ticket sales
-Souvenir stand vendors
-Retail/souvenir merchandise Sales
-Kids Zone attendants
Go to potomacnationals.com for more information.