NATIONALS QUICK WRAP
Score: Nationals 8, Braves 2
Recap: The Nats added some cushion to their one-run lead in the fifth by homering twice off former Nationals righty Yunesky Maya. Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche hit back-to-back blasts, and the Nats coasted to a win over Atlanta.
Need to know: Taylor Jordan looked really sharp in his three innings of work, allowing one run and striking out six. Ross Detwiler allowed a run in his two-plus innings, while Tyler Clippard and Xavier Cedeno threw scoreless innings in relief.
On deck: Sunday, home vs. Cardinals, 1:05 p.m., on MASN HD
VIERA, Fla. - You’ve heard that spring training stats lines can be deceiving.
Your latest example: Ross Detwiler’s line this afternoon, which shows that the left-hander went just two innings plus one batter, allowed six hits and a run, with a strikeout and a hit batter.
Seven baserunners allowed and 51 pitches thrown in two innings is by no means ideal, but Detwiler says he was fairly pleased with his outing. He allowed three infield hits during a long second inning, which helped quickly elevate his pitch count.
“I think I made progress,” Detwiler said. “Made a few good pitches. Kind of a weird day. That second inning was just, I don’t even know what happened there. Three infield hits. I thought everything was coming out well. They only really squared one ball up, which means I had decent movement. They didn’t really swing at the curveball too much, so they either saw it out of the hand or whatever. Overall, I thought it went well.
“I was throwing more downhill (with the fastball) than I was the second inning last time. That’s one thing I wanted to focus on. I can picture a few of the pitches that I thought I really threw well. Two-seam, four-seam fastballs that were down at the bottom of the zone.”
Another thing Detwiler has wanted to focus on this spring is mixing his pitches more. He threw 88 percent fastballs last season according to FanGraphs, but has featured his curveball more this spring and has even started throwing more changeups, a pitch that he only threw 3.6 percent of the time last year.
“That’s one thing I’m working on this spring is throwing a lot more offspeed,” Detwiler said. “You don’t really attack hitters the same way you would during the season, necessarily. You try to work on things. I got an out on a changeup. I actually went back-to-back changeups there (to Andrelton Simmons), and that’s something I don’t think I’ve ever done. So that’s definitely a step in the right direction.
“That’s something I need to do during the season. It’s just, it’s not translating right away, because I’m either trying to be too fine - I’m not quite there yet with rhythm and all that. That’s something pretty much everybody works on in spring training and you get to the season, you get your stride. So I’m looking forward to the next start. I just think it’s going to keep getting a little better every time, and by the season’s start, let’s hope it’s all there.”
Detwiler knows that he needs to throw off-speed more in clutch situations, specifically when he has runners on in scoring position. But that can’t just happen over night. He needs to slowly build confidence in those pitches, otherwise he’ll just revert back to the fastball when he needs a big out.
“That’s a great point, because you work on stuff (in spring), so you’re not throwing it with exact conviction like you need to,” Detwiler said. “And if it gets hit, then your confidence is just a little bit down on that. But that’s why we build ‘em up here. And I thought especially that last inning, to Freeman, I threw three good curveballs to him and he just kind of spit on all of them, didn’t swing at all. So I threw those where I wanted to, down and out of the zone, so they look like strikes for a while, but he’s a great hitter, so just kind of watched them go and they were all balls. But you get a little finer during the season.”