Ross Detwiler will miss at least a month with a disc issue in his back, Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson said after the team’s loss Wednesday night. The belief is that the disc issue is pinching a nerve in the left-hander’s back, which is causing it to go into spasm.
Detwiler, who was sent to Los Angeles for a second opinion from renowned back surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins Sr., will receive an injection in his back and then must rest. Surgery is not being considered, Johnson said.
“He’s going to be down for about a month,” Johnson said sullenly, Detwiler’s diagnosis the latest negative turn for the Nationals, who’ve also lost six games in a row.
Detwiler has been dealing with an issue in his back since at least mid-may, when he was pulled from a start after three innings in obvious discomfort. He went on the disabled list then with what was deemed a strain in the right side of his lower back, but he struggled to regain the superb form he’d begun to take last season and in his first six starts this season (in which he’d worked to a 2.76 ERA) when he returned from the DL.
After he pitched six innings on July 3, Detwiler appeared in obvious pain moving around the Nationals’ clubhouse, and he was placed on the disabled list that weekend. The team had hoped he’d be ready to return shortly after the All-Star break, but his lack of improvement prompted Wednesday’s visit with Dr. Watkins.
So while the news wasn’t necessarily unexpected, it did solidify the Nationals’ need for at least one more starting pitcher. The team has been holding the dam with rookie Taylor Jordan, who has performed admirably in his first major league call up.
But as part of his recovery from 2011 Tommy John surgery, the right-hander is on an innings limit and will likely be shut down after another 20-30 innings, according to Johnson.
The Nationals could intensify their efforts to acquire a starting pitcher before next week’s trade deadline, or they could consider moving Ross Ohlendorf — who will start the second game of Friday’s doubleheader — into the rotation on a more permanent basis. That decision, however, would lead to more moving parts in the team’s bullpen.