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“It’s just about Jordan Zimmermann just living up to his capabilities,” veteran starter Jason Marquis said. “Just doing what Jordan does. Jordan has the capability of being the top end of the rotation starter. He’s just got to get consistent.”

The Nationals chose three players ahead of Zimmermann in the 2007 draft, a drop many attribute to Zimmermann coming out of the little-known University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. The first of those three was Detwiler.

But while Zimmermann made a steady ascent to the major leagues through 2007 and 2008, debuting on April 20, 2009, Detwiler burst onto the scene three months after he was drafted and couldn’t stay. Erratic control and a hip labrum injury that required surgery in February 2010 helped produce ugly major league numbers. In 2009, he was 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA, and in 19 major league starts, he’s 2-9 with a 4.74 ERA.

Detwiler’s been a different pitcher this spring, though, opening his direction to the plate, lengthening his stride and attacking hitters when he’s on the mound. The results have been impressive: 2.65 ERA, 12 strikeouts, three walks. One scout called him a surefire No. 3 starter in the Nationals’ rotation.

“He’s showing the stuff that he was drafted No. 1 for,” McCatty said. “The stuff is finally coming out that we expected him to do.”

At some point this season, late August perhaps, the Nationals could get a glimpse into what could be if three of their top draft picks since 2007 - Strasburg, Zimmermann and Detwiler - all find themselves in the major league rotation at the same time.

There won’t be any instant gratification, but the optimism is there.

“I’m excited about our rotation,” Rizzo said. “We think that we have a good group of guys in those three [Strasburg, Zimmermann and Detwiler] and another wave of guys coming after them. We feel good where we’re at.”