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Nats' season rests on Detwiler's arm

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Nats' season rests on Detwiler's arm

For a club that relied so much on its deep starting rotation for six months, it's perhaps appropriate that the Nationals' season now rests on the left arm of the young man who best represented the organization's pitching depth.

Ross Detwiler wasn't projected to make the Nationals' rotation out of spring training, and even after earning the fifth starter's job on Opening Day, he still was bumped to the bullpen in May after Chien-Ming Wang returned from a hamstring injury.

Along the way, though, Detwiler proved his worth to the Nationals and proved himself a quality big-league starter during a breakthrough season that saw him go 10-8 while posting a 3.40 ERA.

That season-long performance earned Detwiler a spot in the Nationals' postseason rotation, and now it's earned him the right to start a win-or-else Game 4 for his team.

"He has really come a long way," manager Davey Johnson said. "I've seen him pitch some great ballgames. You know, he's got outstanding stuff, and he's got good poise. I have never seen him get really rattled by the situation."

That might be wishful thinking on Johnson's part, because Detwiler certainly appeared rattled the last time he pitched. Given the ball 11 days ago in St. Louis to face the same lineup he'll go up against this afternoon, the 26-year-old lefty seemed to wilt under the weight of the moment.

With a chance to clinch the NL East title for the Nationals, Detwiler lasted only 2 1/3 innings, giving up seven runs (three earned) while walking five.

"I try not to remember that one," he joked yesterday morning, prior to Game 3.

Detwiler will need to recall at least some details of that sub-par outing, lest he make the same mistakes against the Cardinals.

"The scouting report is still fresh in my mind," he said. "It's my last start and the last hitters I saw. I'll know how to attack them and how I want to do it."

The key for Detwiler, as it has been so often this season: Go right after hitters and get ahead in the count, then start mixing and matching his offspeed stuff with his fastball.

One aspect in Detwiler's favor: He'll be pitching in the familiar and comfortable surroundings of Nationals Park, where he went 8-2 with a 2.59 ERA this season. On the road, he was 2-6 with a 4.38 ERA.

Detwiler doesn't know why precisely his home/road splits have been so dramatic, but he admits there's a comfort level pitching in Washington.

"I think it's just a routine thing," he said. "I'm able to get in the routine here. I have my places I go before starts at home. Obviously on the road, you're in a different city, so you can't do that. Hopefully that's what it is, and I'll go about that tomorrow."

If not, Detwiler and the Nationals might have all winter to think about it.

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

The Washington Nationals announced Friday Dusty Baker will not return as manager of the club in 2018. 

Baker led the team to the first back-to-back division titles in franchise history, and the Nationals were 192-132 under Baker, but they failed to make it to an NLCS.

Baker is 14th in MLB history with 1,863 career wins.

The next Nationals' manager will be their seventh since they arrived in DC.

Only the Marlins have had as many.

"I'm surprised and disappointed," Baker told USA TODAY Sports. "They told me they would get back to me and I told them I was leaving town yesterday and they waited 10 days to tell me."

"I really thought this was my best year. We won at least 95 games each year and won the division back to back years but they said they wanted to go a different direction. It's hard to understand." 

The team also announced the contracts for the Major League coaching staff have also expired, and the search for a new manager will begin immediately.

RELATED: BRYCE HARPER THANKS NATIONALS' FANS FOR SUPPORT

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

While Nats fans were still digesting the news that Dusty Baker will not return as manager next year, the team released some more surprising news. 

Second baseman Daniel Murphy underwent knee surgery today, per an official team report. 

Washington Post reporter Chelsea Janes reported that the surgery is considered significant and the team won't put a timeline on the recovery process:

"The procedure, according to the statement released by the team, repaired articular cartilage in Murphy’s right knee. For those interested in the details, it was a debridement and microfracture surgery, and orthopedic surgeon Timothy Kremchek performed it."

"For those concerned with the implications of the procedure, those are still unclear. The statement clarified that Murphy’s rehab “will progress throughout the offseason,” as one would hope, and did not include a timetable.

RELATED: HARPER THANKS FANS FOR SUPPORT