It is three starts into the season, so let's not get ahead of ourselves here. But the Nationals have to love what they've seen so far from starter Ross Detwiler.
In three outings, the 27-year-old has allowed two earned runs in 20 innings. He has 11 strikeouts and just three walks. His fastball darts around the strike zone, and he has induced 36 ground balls to 29 fly balls so far. He did so pitching against the Braves and Reds, two playoff teams last season, so the competition has been strong. Detwiler also took care of business against the lowly Marlins on Wednesday with seven strong innings. These are all good signs for a pitcher who broke through last season with a 3.40 ERA in 27 starts and pitched well in an elimination game in the NL Division Series against St. Louis. And that's who Detwiler will see again Tuesday in his next start -- a third playoff team from 2012. Of course, maybe all of this shouldn't be a surprise. Detwiler, after all, was the No. 6 pick in the 2007 draft. He is a 6-foot-5 lefty with a fastball that approaches 95 mph. He only appears to have come from out of nowhere compared to his fellow rotation members -- Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez.
But Detwiler's emergence takes the pressure off that trio. Washington doesn't need a Cy Young season from any of them to pile up wins if its fourth starter is capable of shutting down any lineup in the league. It also gives the Nats time to figure out what's wrong with fifth starter Dan Haren, who has an 8.10 ERA in three starts.
- Brian McNally