Ross Detwiler was minding his business before yesterday’s game when pitching coach Steve McCatty approached him.
McCatty had some news. Detwiler was being reinserted into the Nationals’ rotation.
“Hey, this is what’s going to happen,” Detwiler recalls McCatty saying. “Be aggressive.”
That last word - aggressive - might be the key for the left-hander now that he finds himself back in the starting rotation. In his final two starts before being moved to the bullpen on May 26, Detwiler struggled, allowing nine earned runs, nine hits and five walks over 9 1/3 innings.
The issue in those two starts, Detwiler and manager Davey Johnson believe, was that Detwiler wasn’t attacking hitters as much. He got back on the offensive out of the bullpen, however, especially in his last three outings, when he pitched 7 1/3 hitless innings. In each of those relief appearances, he was able to keep his pitch count low by getting ahead in the count and establishing his game plan on hitters.
“You’re forced to (be aggressive),” Detwiler said of life in the bullpen. “You can’t go out there and get a feel for anything. You’re forced to go out there and throw strikes and get people out, or you’re getting taken out real quick.
“Looking back on it now, I could tell I wasn’t as aggressive as I needed to be when I was starting,” he adds. “I think that’s going to be a huge step for me.”
Detwiler says that he’ll kind of reset his mindset now that he’s moving back into the rotation. Despite the fact he hasn’t thrown more than 48 pitches in an outing since May 25, the 26-year-old feels he’ll have no issue working deep into games as a starter.
“I think I’ll be good to go,” Detwiler said. “That’s what I did out of spring training (moving from the ‘pen to the rotation), and I was good to go, so why not again, right?”
Meanwhile, Chien-Ming Wang threw a bullpen session today with McCatty watching on with a close eye. The veteran righty was working on his mechanics and trying to get more consistent with his sinker, which he’s had trouble locating recently due to an inconsistent arm slot.
Pitching out of the bullpen again will be an adjustment for Wang, but despite the demotion, he’s keeping his head up.
“No matter what spot, I’m with the team,” he said, through interpreter John Hsu. “I think the only thing I need to do is just get my sinker back, keep doing my job, and hopefully I can get back to the rotation.”