Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen did something in their respective starts that we haven't seen very often this year from the Nationals' starters.
They threw strikes.
Detwiler, in only his second full season of professional baseball, pitched as though he was a five-year veteran in the major leagues.
He went 5 innings, gave up 4 hits, 2 earned runs, 0 walks and 6 strike outs. His only blemishes were back-to-back change ups that got away from him in the 6th when he hit a batter and gave up a 3-run home run to Craig Monroe.
He featured a fastball at 89-92 that he threw consistently for strikes and a change up that seemed to hesitate and had the Pirate hitters baffled. The tall lanky left hander exhibited great poise under the extreme pressure of his first big league start. Throwing almost 70 percent strikes, Ross showed why the Nationals thought so highly of him that they drafted him in round one in 2007 (the 6th pick overall) out of Missouri State.
As good as Detwiler was, Craig Stammen, who was tearing up Triple-A Syracuse with a 1.80 ERA, might have been even better. He blitzed the Pirates' lineup for five innings throwing nothing but strikes.
Through the 4th inning, he had not given up a hit and had thrown a total of 42 pitches, of which 33 were strikes. His first three-ball count didn't come until the 21st hitter he faced. No pitcher on this staff has exhibited better command of his fastball over that long of a stretch.
Stammen's fastball was clocked between 89 and 93 with incredible sink and late movement. His 2-seamer was 89-90 with his 4-seam fastball at 91 -93. He was advertised as having a north to south curveball that had been a big weapon in his arsenal at Triple-A. The amazing thing is that he had all this success throwing just 19 off speed pitches.
I have always believed that the most important attribute that a pitcher possesses is make-up. There are a busload of pitchers who had great stuff who are at home now making a living some other way.
It boils down to an internal belief that you belong in the big leagues and that you are tough enough to handle the pressures, the scrutiny and the failures without losing that inner confidence.
I was never more nervous in my entire major league career than I was during my first at bat in 1974.
I felt like I was hyperventilating, and yes, I struck out on three pitches. Good morning, good afternoon, goodnight.
Several of my pitching teammates expressed the same sentiments when they took the mound for the first time in the show. We all took a while to develop that attitude of not being denied.
My point is that I believe that Stammen and Detwiler have the intestinal fortitude, along with the good arms, that will make them successful. Why? By the way, they each performed their first time out, on a team that needed them badly.
My opinion - which is worth about a dime - With Lannan, Zimmerman, Martis and now Detwiler and Stammen, I feel that we have five young arms that also possess the right kind of MAKE-UP.
Let's throw them out there and have them competing against themselves and creating a bulldog attitude, much like the early 1990 Atlanta Braves who had five young starters that did everything together... Remember Maddox, Smoltz, Avery, Glavine and Mercker...