Detwiler still on track; bullpen concerns

Detwiler still on track; bullpen concerns
May 25, 2013, 6:30 pm
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Ross Detwiler threw a bullpen session on Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park, keeping him on track to return on Tuesday against the Baltimore Orioles. The lefty has been sidelined with a mild oblique strain after aggravating the muscle on May 15 against in Los Angeles against the Dodgers.

Detwiler took the field around 2:45 to stretch, threw some longball, and then went about his bullpen session as if it were any other.

“It was a normal bullpen session. The only difference was I sat down halfway through there for about five minutes to simulate an inning, and then I got back up and threw and everything was good.”

Detwiler feels fine, no soreness or pain to report on. He missed one start, but is ready to slot right back into the rotation.

“Any time you get healthy again it’s definitely going to be a relief. But the thing [is] I kind of went and threw a little harder today than I normally would just so I wouldn’t have any, I wouldn’t hold back anything. I proved to myself that I was healthy and I’m ready to go.”

Davey concerned about bullpen

With the offense finally waking up for ten hits and five runs on Friday night against the Phillies, perhaps the Nationals’ bats have bought themselves some credit from their manager, Davey Johnson. The 70-year-old skipper has been growing a beard over the last few days, saying he’ll keep it until the offense comes around. But while overall it’s a concern, Johnson’s attention has turned towards the bullpen.

After holding up the staff last season with a 3.23 collective ERA, the bullpen has struggled as a whole with a 4.15 mark this year. Tyler Clippard and Craig Stammen have been fine, but the team’s other relievers have not been as effective.

“That keeps me up more than actually the offense, because I really feel the offense is going to come around,” Johnson said.

“I got some roles to find in the bullpen. My bullpen, with the loss of [Ryan] Mattheus, I thought we were getting close to everybody knowing their role out there. But with the loss of him and the new guy coming in, [Fernando] Abad, I’ve gotta create something where they each have roles that I’m comfortable with and they’re comfortable with.”

Mattheus went down last week with a broken hand and is expected to miss at least a month. Losing the right-hander was tough, in particular, because he induces groundballs as a sinker baller. Johnson likes to have him in store in case power pitchers like Henry Rodriguez find trouble.

“If Henry's got any kind of problem, I always like to bring a sinker baller in with guys on base,” Johnson said. “I would do that with Stammen or Mattheus, primarily if Henry is giving me a problem, I can bring a guy in looking for a groundball.”

Johnson said his original plan this year was to have Drew Storen as his right-hander specialist in the setup role, with Tyler Clippard filling the same purpose against lefties. He hoped to have a secondary right/lefty pair in Rodriguez and Mattheus. Maybe he achieves that at some point this season, but for now everything remains in flux.

“There are times I felt like having Storen on one side and Clip on the other in setup roles, in eighth inning roles,” Johnsons said. “But with early on inconsistency with pitching, four innings or so or eight, that kind of threw that all out of wack. That’s my biggest concern, getting those roles established in the bullpen.”

Not having lefty relievers has thrown off the configuration he used last season, Johnson says. He is still looking for specific niches for his bullpen guys and says the next move may be adjusting Stammen’s role. Stammen may pitch later in games with his starters going further as of late.