Ross Detwiler to start Thursday, Nationals begin to look toward future

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When the Nationals travel to Colorado later this week they’ll do so knowing that when they arrive their roster will have shifted some. Ross Detwiler will start for Washington Thursday night in Denver and Tom Gorzelanny will remain in the bullpen “for now,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Sunday.

The start signifies more than a simple configuration switch. Detwiler has been serving the team since July 8 in a bullpen role. He made one spot start but has been used as a long reliever since. With the Nationals in last place in the NL East and 11 games back of the NL Wild Card-leading Braves, the time, though, has come to see what he can do as a part of the Nationals rotation.

The former first-round pick will likely be joined by the likes of Tom Milone, Brad Peacock and (eventually) Stephen Strasburg at some point this season to create a rotation that will look very much unlike the one the Nationals began the season with but a welcome sight for the future if they perform the way the Nationals hope they will.  

But bringing up names like Milone, Peacock and Strasburg is getting ahead of ourselves. For the time being, it’ll be Gorzelanny in the bullpen and Detwiler in the rotation.

“But who knows?” Johnson said. “Things change around here.

“It’s not that I don’t want Gorzelanny because he’s got nothing to prove to me. If we were fighting for a pennant, I might do it but since we’re where we’re at, it’s time to look at some young arms and give them the opportunity to establish, and that’s what you do.”

Things are certain to change with the Nationals rotation anyway. Jordan Zimmermann has roughly four starts remaining before he hits his innings limit for the season and when he’s shut down, another vacancy will be created. The August waiver trading period also adds another wrinkle as veterans like Livan Hernandez and even Gorzrelanny too, could be put attempted to pass through and a trade worked out.

In the meantime, Johnson is still trying to configure his bullpen in a manner that satisfies him — the biggest area of need being a pitcher to get him to his eighth and ninth inning guys, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen. Ideally, that’d be a pitcher who can throw two or three innings easily.

The Nationals will be making another roster move soon when they option left-hander Atahualpa Severino back to Triple-A Syracuse and attempt to work on that bullpen makeup. Severino was called up Sunday to replace Yunesky Maya on the roster but he did not make it into the game. Johnson said chances are that he would be sent back shortly.

“I’ve got too many pitchers and I don’t have kind of the makeup that I want down there,” Johnson said of his bullpen. “I still like to have a bridge between the starters and the closers, and I’m not real comfortable with that. So now that all this has passed, we’ll be addressing more how to (do that). At some point we’ll be thinking about other guys, bringing them up, and having in them in long-relief or putting them in.”

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About the Author
Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at acomak@washingtontimes.com and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.

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