VIERA, Fla. - Matt Williams ideally wants Nationals starters to get through three innings of work in their second start of spring training.
Ross Detwiler didn’t quite get there.
Detwiler went two-plus innings today, allowing a run on six hits. He struck out one and hit a batter, and was pulled after allowing a single to Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman leading off the third inning.
The left-hander threw 51 pitches, 32 for strikes.
He was plagued early by a few unlucky breaks, including three infield singles, and ended up facing 11 hitters through his first two innings of work.
Detwiler said after his spring debut in Tampa against the Yankees that his fastball command wasn’t where he wanted it to be. He left a number of pitches up in the zone that day and Detwiler’s two-seam, sinking fastball didn’t have the two-plane movement that he typically gets.
The fastball command appeared to be an issue, at least to some extent, again today.
Taylor Jordan, who is competing with Detwiler for the No. 5 spot in the Nats’ rotation (along with Tanner Roark), came on to relieve Detwiler in the third.
Jordan got Evan Gattis to pop out to the catcher, then struck out Chris Johnson and Dan Uggla to end an impressive inning of work.
Update: The Nats have taken a 3-2 lead as we go to the fifth, this after they scored solo runs in the first, second and fourth innings.
Bryce Harper’s RBI groundout to first (on a ball that was smoked right at Freeman) brought in Denard Span with the Nats’ first run. Span had doubled to lead off the inning.
Span then brought a run around in the second when his tapper back to the pitcher allowed Danny Espinosa to score from second, thanks to some aggressive baserunning. Espinosa had doubled to left-center (which the Nats have to love to see), and he was moving on the 3-2 pitch to Span. When Braves starter David Hale tried to throw out Span at first, Espinosa turned around third base and sprinted for home, and slid in safely ahead of Freeman’s throw.
Nice aggressive baserunning.
In the fourth, Espinosa walked (another good sign) and stole second. He then came in to score on Chris Snyder’s sac fly to right.
Jordan, meanwhile, has been excellent today, and has shown the type of overpowering stuff we don’t usually see from the 25-year-old sinkerballer.
Jordan just completed his third inning of work, having struck out six batters. He allowed one run on three hits.
In his nine starts with the Nats last year, Jordan struck out more than four batters just once. He had his strikeout stuff working today.