After 3 starts, Ross Detwiler has tossed roughly 20 innings and might just lead the majors in ERA. Surely he's gotten it together and is finally going to live up to his first round draft pick status.
Oh wait. WE SAID THE SAME EXACT THING LAST YEAR.
It's true. After 3 games Ross had thrown 16 innings for an ERA of 0.56. His WHIP was better (0.9375 to 1.000 this year). His K rate was better (9.0 to 5.0). He was getting more ground balls. He was throwing the same amount of strikes.
What happened? His actual level of talent showed through. Ross Detwiler is a good pitcher. Ross Detwiler is a great #5. But Ross Detwiler is not a great pitcher.
Let's go to the videotape(of fancy stats).
The Ranges - stats that can vary by pitcher but fall within a typical range.
BABIP (ranges between .250 - .325)
Ross Career : .280 Last year .263. This year : .250
He's at the very bottom of the usual range and way under his usual numbers. Now I'll grant you that he will be on the low end of the spectrum. GB pitcher, great infield D. But I think last year's number was about as low as he can go... if even that. The infield D is the same guys behind him and he can only coax so many more GBs. .250 is not going to be sustained all year.
Ross Career : 8.4% Last year 7.3%. This year 5.7%
He's past the low end for this right now, well past his career average, and even a good deal past last year's number. Now before you say "HE'S SHOWING IMPROVEMENT IDIOT!!!" and make a fool of yourself, please know that these things do vary. He had a 7.0% in 2010. He was not particularly good in 2010. This is far more luck that skill and he's getting lucky. Still the GB emphasis will probably keep him low. Just not this low.
Ross Career: 71.6%. Last year 70.8%. This year 92.2%
OMG. The other things are a little out of whack but wouldn't explain a sub 1.00 ERA. This is it right here. Basically Ross is stranding runners at a crazy rate. Again I'll note this is not something you can really improve. Not like that. Gio was awesome last year, right? Stranded 74% You WILL be in that range. Ross is getting super lucky in the timing of the hits he's given up. Is he bearing down and concentrating hard? Perhaps. DOESN'T MATTER. You know who else is bearing down and concentrating hard with runners on base? EVERYONE. This won't stay this high. It won't stay 10% from here. That's a bet I'd take 10 times out of 10
The personal stats - is he getting better?
Career : 47.2% Last Year : 50.8% This Year : 53.8%
Yes, improved. And he might be able to keep this up which would improve his pitching a bit. A small bit, but every bit matters
Career 5.50 / 3.08 Last Year : 5.75 / 2.85 This year : 4.95 / 1.35
Well you see what I see. A big improvement in BB/9. Granted that's only one or so man on base per outing but that matters. It's a few less pitches, one less run to potentially knock in. Is it real? Maybe. Though I'll warn you. Last year, 3 games in Ross was striking out people like a rock star. Didn't last. I wouldn't be surprised to see some control improvement (especially if he sacrifices some K potential), but not to the level we've seen so far.
I don't mean to sound grim because Ross is pitching well. The GB rate is nice, he's not walking any and he's striking out enough. He's doing what you want from the #5 spot and then some. He's pitching like a #3, maybe better. But he's getting the results of an elite #1. That's not going to last and you're better off not fooling yourself thinking it will.
(Note : Ross is on my fantasy team. I have no reason not to want him to become the best pitcher ever. But I can't deny what's in front of my face)