DETROIT -- John Lannan thinks he knows why he's been struggling his last few times on the mound: He's overcompensating in an attempt not to suffer a recurrence of the elbow pain that hampered him last month.
Lannan, who was roughed up by the Tigers last night for seven runs and 10 hits in only 4 1/3 innings, said afterward he wasn't able to get his sinker (his bread-and-butter pitch) to sink. He insisted his arm felt fine and wasn't at all bothering him like it did earlier this season, but he couldn't find a mechanical flaw either.
After watching some video with pitching coach Steve McCatty today, though, the left-hander thinks he's figured it out. He believes he's not bending his elbow as much as he should while releasing the ball, subconsciously afraid he might re-injure himself. Instead, his left arm remains straight as he pitches, not allowing him to "turn over" the ball and make it sink the way he always has.
"I don't know why I started doing it, or when I started doing it," he said. "But I think I'm overcompensating for the elbow."
Lannan believes the fix should be simple, though it's going to be more mental than physical.
"I just have to get myself not to think about it and just throw the ball with my natural motion," he said.
Lannan, the Nats' Opening Day starter the last two seasons, is 2-4 with a 5.45 ERA in 13 outings so far. He's next scheduled to pitch Sunday against the White Sox.