- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 17, 2009

Scott Olsen isn’t having any success pitching, the product of a left shoulder that has landed him on the disabled list. And Daniel Cabrera isn’t having any success pitching - no matter the state of his right arm.

So the Washington Nationals are about to take a bold step: In need of a fill-in starter Monday night, they’re going to bypass some seasoned Class AAA pitchers and promote the organization’s prize prospect after only six starts at Class AA.

Ross Detwiler, the Nationals’ first-round pick in 2007, is slated to make the first big league start of his career Monday when he is summoned from Harrisburg to face the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It’s an unexpected move for a Washington franchise that has tried to take the slow-and-steady approach with its top prospects. But given the current troubles of the pitching staff - on display again Saturday in a day-night doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies that included an 8-5 loss in Game 1 and a rain-shortened, 7-5 loss - the Nationals feel this move is necessary.

Detwiler, who made one relief appearance in September 2007 but has since been working his way through the lower levels of Washington’s farm system, owns a 3.00 ERA in six outings with Harrisburg. Scheduled to start Saturday night in Reading, Pa., the 23-year-old lefty was pulled and told he would be promoted to the majors. He was selected over a crop of right-handers at Class AAA Syracuse that includes Collin Balester, Craig Stammen and Marco Estrada.



Detwiler’s call-up is a reaction both to Saturday’s doubleheader, which burned up two Nationals starters. But the young hurler could stick up here for a while because both of Saturday’s starters face an uncertain future: Olsen because of injury, Cabrera because of continued ineffectiveness.

Olsen had been nicked up coming out of his previous start Sunday in Arizona, when he took a hard grounder off his left ankle. By the time the left-hander finished five innings Saturday, it was evident he had been fighting more than just that. An MRI taken on Olsen’s shoulder after the 8-5 loss revealed tendinitis. He received a cortisone shot and will be placed on the 15-day DL.

It seemed as if Olsen (whose fastball was clocked in the mid-80s, down about 5 mph) would have a rough afternoon early, but the Nationals had no choice. Manager Manny Acta couldn’t ask for another five-plus innings out of his relievers. He had to leave Olsen on the mound.

“He did gain a lot of respect from me,” the manager said. “His shoulder was a little tight. Still, he did something that probably didn’t help him. He was thinking about his teammates. He wanted to go out there, give us as many innings as he could and pick up his bullpen.”

Olsen (1-4) allowed six runs (five earned) on nine hits in five innings, the speed difference between his fastball and change-up too small to hold back the Phillies. Raul Ibanez hit two home runs off him - giving him five in seven games against the Nationals this year - and Jayson Werth smoked one in the second inning.

It was that shot, which followed Ibanez’s first homer and put the Phillies up 2-1, that sent Acta out to the mound for the first time to check on Olsen.

Acta asked Olsen if he was OK; Olsen said he was and kept pitching.

“I saw a guy that was battling his stinking butt off trying to give us some innings,” catcher Josh Bard said. “He’s out there throwing 84, 85 miles an hour. He’s not feeling right, but he competed.”

The Nationals couldn’t muster the same kind of charge off the sometimes-erratic Brett Myers that the Phillies had off Olsen. Ryan Zimmerman hit a solo homer to center in the first inning, and Josh Willingham did the same in the fourth.

But the Nationals had just one other hit off Myers. They scored three runs in the eighth to give the final score in the opener a measure of respectability but never got close to rallying.

Cabrera put his team in another hole in the second game, getting roughed up for seven runs in five laborious innings. As in the opener, Acta needed as many innings as possible from his starter to try to keep the bullpen fresh, so Cabrera was left in to take some lumps. During a wretched fifth inning, the right-hander served up a three-run homer to Ryan Howard and later issued three walks, including one with the bases loaded.

The right-hander is 0-5 with a 5.95 ERA, he has put an astounding 82 men on base in only 39 1/3 innings and Washington has wound up losing all eight games he has started.

“You don’t even know how bad this feels,” Cabrera said. “I’ve been there… eight times already and I can’t get a win for my team. I feel really bad. I feel like, I think, the worst I’ve ever felt in my life.”

The Nationals did mount a comeback against rookie right-hander Andrew Carpenter, scoring three times in the bottom of the fifth to draw within 7-5. But a vicious line of storms hit the ballpark during the top of the sixth. After waiting 90 minutes to see if the rain would subside, umpire Mike Reilly’s crew decided to call the game - which was already official - in the Phillies’ favor, another demoralizing blow for the Nationals on a long day full of them.

“Long day,” Acta said. “We got ourselves in a losing streak in just two days. Three games.”

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