Things 'finally starting to click' for Detmers

June 21st, 2023

ANAHEIM -- After dominating down the stretch as a rookie last season, the Angels were hopeful left-hander would keep it rolling and be a major part of their rotation this season.

Detmers got off to a bit of a slow start, but he’s been showing signs of turning it around, especially in a strong outing against the rival Dodgers on Tuesday. Detmers threw a season-high seven scoreless innings, and while it came in a frustrating 2-0 loss in the series opener at Angel Stadium, it was still a positive indication that Detmers is getting back on track. He scattered just two hits and a walk while striking out eight, including Mookie Betts three times.

“It might’ve been the best I’ve seen him throw and I know he threw a no-hitter last year,” manager Phil Nevin said. “I thought it was probably the best I’ve seen him, just considering how the game was going and the lineup he was facing. It’s the best top of the order in baseball and we went right through them. He pitched great.”

Over his last three starts, Detmers has now posted a 0.96 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings. This comes after he recorded a 5.15 ERA through his first 10 outings of the season. It helped him lower his ERA to a more respectable 4.02 on the year, while he’s struck out 84 batters in 69 1/3 innings.

If he can keep it going, it would be huge for an inconsistent rotation, especially with fellow lefty Patrick Sandoval also starting to get on a roll. Detmers is still just 23 years old, but the former No. 10 overall pick certainly has the stuff, with a fastball that averages roughly 95 mph along with an electric slider, a developing curveball and an occasionally used changeup. He said he’s been tinkering with his slider in recent starts, adding and subtracting velocity to keep hitters off-balance.

Detmers grew up studying longtime Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, so it was only fitting that his best outing of the year came against the legendary southpaw. Kershaw was also impressive, throwing seven scoreless frames of his own.

“It’s probably the best I’ve felt in a really long time,” Detmers said. “Things are finally starting to click for me. I wanted to put our team in a good spot late in the game. I knew Kershaw wasn’t going to give in. So I just did my best to go deep into the game.”

Detmers didn't deal with much traffic, as J.D. Martinez’s leadoff single in the second was the Dodgers’ only hit until the seventh, when Detmers surrendered a leadoff single to Will Smith. But Detmers got out of that inning unscathed and finished his outing with 98 pitches.

It appeared the Angels gave Detmers the lead in the fourth, when doubled home with two outs. But after a review, the call on the field was overturned and Drury was ruled out at home to end the inning, which frustrated Nevin.

“Was that one clear and definitive? I don’t get it,” Nevin said. “Did he touch his eyelash? You can’t see because the dirt is popped up. We’ve had a couple like that, which have been baffling to me.”

The Angels also wasted a prime scoring chance against Kershaw in the seventh, when Drury opened the frame with a single and Renfroe followed with a double to put two runners in scoring position with nobody out. grounded out to shortstop and struck out before walked to load the bases. But grounded out to end the potential rally.

“We certainly had our chance there,” Nevin said. “But [Kershaw is] one of the best pitchers in the game and he’s never going to give in. And that’s why he’s going to the Hall of Fame.”

The Dodgers capitalized in the eighth once Detmers left the game, as reliever dealt with some hard luck after giving up a one-out double to Miguel Rojas. Michael Busch followed with a grounder to first, which took a strange hop over Padlo to give the Dodgers the lead. Devenski later allowed a two-out RBI single to Will Smith.

“It was the first bad hop I’ve seen on this field,” Nevin said. “That’s just baseball. There were a couple things that didn’t go our way. The bad hop was one of them. It just bounced over his head. Mookie popped up the next ball [for what would’ve been the third out] and we’re probably still playing.”