Ross Detwiler’s development evident as results keep rolling in

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MIAMI — The conversation happened almost two years ago now, but one mention of it and Ross Detwiler remembers exactly where he was and what was said.

He vividly recalled sitting across the desk in the manager’s office at Triple-A Syracuse and lamenting to Randy Knorr what he felt was essentially bad luck.


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“Man, nothing went right for me today,” Detwiler told Knorr, describing a mostly unremarkable start in which Detwiler didn’t give up very many hard hits but didn’t have much success, either.

Knorr stared back at him, somewhat incredulous.

“That’s like the third one in a row that, ‘Nothing’s gone right for you,’” he told Detwiler. “Isn’t it time to change something that you’re doing? Instead of just waiting for stuff to go your way?”

As Detwiler prepares to make his third start Wednesday in a season that already has seen two strong outings from the left-hander, he chuckles now at their chat. But he also acknowledges its importance in getting him to this point.

“He didn’t quite say it in those words,” Detwiler said of Knorr, who said as much himself. “A few f-bombs in there and all that. But from that point on, I stopped waiting for things to go right and started making things right.”

In name, Detwiler is the Washington Nationals’ No. 5 starter. He embraces this fact, saying he’s more than content to get his job done and then fade into the background for the other four days of the week. The media and the fans, they clamor for Stephen Strasburg, for Gio Gonzalez. That’s fine.

“I don’t need any media attention, really,” Detwiler said. “I’m just a fifth starter. I go out there and pitch and nobody bothers me very much. It’s kind of nice.”

But when you’ve allowed just one earned run in your first 13 innings of work this season — or you include four scoreless innings in the World Baseball Classic, and six innings without an earned run in a must-win game of the 2012 National League Division Series — you could make an argument that you’re treading into elite waters.

You could at least acknowledge what most in the baseball world have: that on plenty of other teams, you’re no No. 5 starter.

But Detwiler doesn’t.

“I’ve never been on another team,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “This is it.”

The truth of it is that Detwiler may not be disappearing for much longer.

Since the Nationals moved Detwiler back into the starting rotation for good in June, he has posted a 2.97 ERA in 121 1/3 innings of work in the regular season and playoffs.

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