Wednesday, March 21, 2012

With Wang ailing, Lannan holds No. 5 spot

Associated Press photo
John Lannan tossed four scoreless innings today against the Braves.
VIERA, Fla. -- Until someone tell him otherwise, John Lannan is going to prepare as though he'll start for the Nationals five days from now and open the season as the final member of their rotation.

"I'm assuming that I'm starting every fifth day," the left-hander said following today's four-inning appearance. "So I'm just going to go from there and start five days from now."

By all accounts, Lannan's assumptions are correct. Despite hope in some corners that Chien-Ming Wang will be able to make his first start of the season, manager Davey Johnson today suggested Wang won't have healed from his hamstring injury in nearly enough time.

Johnson in particular was discouraged by the size of the bruise emanating from Wang's left leg, where he suffered the initial hamstring strain last week.

"He's moving around walking good, but from what I saw today, he's got quite a bit of blood in there," Johnson said. "Before he gets on the mound, I'd say three weeks, maybe a month. I'll have to double-check with the doctor, but I just saw a lot of blood in there."

Wang is scheduled to play catch tomorrow for the first time since injuring himself trying to make a play at first base against the Yankees. But that's only the first step toward a full recovery, and even once healthy he'll need to build up his arm strength and stamina again after totaling only 4 2/3 innings in two Grapefruit League starts to date.

"He can throw," Johnson said. "But I don't see him getting on the mound before that."

All of this leaves Lannan as the Nationals' likely fifth starter once the season begins. The left-hander (Washington's Opening Day starter in 2009 and 2010 and staff leader in wins, starts and innings pitched last year) enjoyed a strong outing today, holding the Braves scoreless for four innings.

Lannan wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. He allowed three hits and a walk and gave up a couple of long fly balls that might have been home runs if not for a stiff wind blowing in from left field at Space Coast Stadium.

But Lannan also managed to keep his pitches down in the strike zone and induce plenty of groundballs, much to the lefty's satisfaction.

"There's still stuff I should work on, but it was a step in the right direction," he said. "I don't know how many more outings I have until the season stars, but it was a step in the right direction."

Lannan threw 79 pitches, a high total for only four innings of work, but enough to put him in line with the rest of the Nationals' starters with two weeks to go until Opening Day. He's scheduled to return to the mound and start Sunday against the Mets, then is likely to make his final exhibition on March 30 against the Marlins.

34 comments:

Section 222 said...

Anyone going to ask DJ if Detwiler has a shot at that last rotation spot? And if he doesn't, why not?

fpcsteve said...

Good for Lannan! Well done!

natsfan1a said...

Keep plugging away at it, Johnny.

In other news, because I wanted to watch even more baseball today, I channel surfed back and forth to MLB Network and the SFO/CLE game. (Atta way, Buster!) Clicked over to see the bases loaded with Giants and no outs, when the first out was made to a leaping SS - Guuuuzze. Atta way, Guzie!) Okay, so Buster may have lined into the second out, and I forget who made the third one, but, just for old times' sake Guuuuuuuze.

natsfan1a said...

Wait, make that a leaping 2B. But my comment stands - Guuuuzzee!

MicheleS said...

Glad LannEn had a good day, It won't quiet the critics, but nothing outside of winning the Cy would.

Poor Espi had a baaaadddd day, but the Jersey still is hanging up with pride.

Wally said...

It seems like Davey is letting Lannan dangle in the breeze a bit, which doesn't seem like a great way to treat a guy who has been productive for the organization.

But I will say This for Davey, and I intend it as a compliment: he plays the guys that he thinks are best, he isn't influenced by sentimentality and doesn't worry about hurting anyone's feelings. You saw that in naming Stras the Opening Day starter. I mean, I would have given it to JZ because of last year and partially because of SS's innings limit, but is their any doubt in anyone's mind who the best starter on the team is?

Unfortunately it looks like he doesn't see Lannan as a good SP.

SonnyG10 said...

222, I doubt Det has a shot at the fifth spot because I'm sure Rizzo wants to keep both players at this point. Det can come out of the bull pen better than Lannan. This should buy us some time until we find out if Wang is a go or a no-go. Still could see Lannan traded and have Det slide into the 5th spot, if Rizzo finds the right trade.

MJR said...

Hey all, I'm sure I should know this given that I've been a NatsInsider for several years now but - would someone please explain the LannEn spelling thing? I've tried to figure it out and hoped that someone else would ask but I haven't and no one has and it's making me a little nuts. Help, please.

SonnyG10 said...

Wally, I agree and I also think Mike Rizzo is the same way. They are both about building a better club.

SonnyG10 said...

MJR, If I remember correctly, someone, either a NI blogger or a sports reporter misspelled Lannan's last name, but Lannan had a good day that day so a lot of folks started spelling it the wrong way because it brought us good luck. The capital E signifies the writer is intentionally misspelling it. If I mis-remember, somebody correct me.

MicheleS said...

MJR. The LannEn, came from a misspelling last year on a line up card that Riggleman filled out the night that LannEn finally beat the Philies last year.

Unkyd said...

Anybody notice this, over on the left?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqLqGzo8ifk&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Seems a number of our scouts are paying close attention to one Gerardo Parra. Show of hands: would you do Desi and Flores for Parra and a prospect? LH high OBP OF, not quite 25, under control for a few years.....

Unkyd said...

...or this :

http://www.thenatsblog.com/2012-articles/march/nationals-scout-diamondbacks-of-gerardo-parra-for-second-straight-day.html

The link I actually meant to post....

Unkyd said...

The other one is an alt country tune I posted on my Facebook page today... um....Enjoy?

Unkyd said...

Actually, it's called Every Little Bit Counts....which ain't a bad theme for a baseball team...come to think of it.... ;-)

Sunderland said...

Unkyd, Parra is a good target, exactly what to give up, I dunno, but yeah, I think I would do the deal you referenced. He's not really had much chance to play CF, so I'm unsure about his defense. He's obviously fast enough to cover the ground, I don't know about his arm.
His MiLB career shows him as a high OBP guy, so I'd reason last year was not a fluke. His splits were good as well, plus he obviously learned how to steal bases last year, going 15 - 1 on the season. He's under control for 2012 plus 3 more seasons, through 2015.
Yeah, I'd pull the trigger on that.

HHover said...

MicheleS

Even if Lannan won the Cy Young, a certain commenter would show up to complain about how the BWAA ignored his pRAA, and how Yunesky Maya was really a better pitcher.

Steady Eddie said...

I would NOT do that deal, because Flores is too valuable at this point to throw in anyone else, and we have no decent backup catcher in the system with Nortis gone. Solano is Wil Nieves 2.0, and Leon or Freitas aren't ready. Between defense and hitting we'd net out just as well with Pudge as the backup, and none of us wants that.

I would give Desmond and an OK prospect like Hood or Kobernus for Parra. Flores plus anyone else is overpaying and we can't afford to do that at C right now.

NatsNuttyBuddy said...

Lannan had a very good day. One bad pitch to Uggla that stayed in the park. His numbers don't look great for the Spring because he just doesn't pitch comfortable entering the game as a reliever as he has done in the 4th inning.

Unkyd said...

I think I could live with Maldonado backing up Moose, for the time being... It's trading a potential weakness to fill the biggest hole in the lineup, as of right now...

SonnyG10 said...

MicheleS said...
MJR. The LannEn, came from a misspelling last year on a line up card that Riggleman filled out the night that LannEn finally beat the Philies last year.

Thanks for jogging my memory and I'm sure MJR is grateful also.

NatsLady said...

Not sure I would do the deal, only because Flores is starting to show that he can really hit, and we need a hitter on our bench. If it was just as a "backup catcher," ok, but I think he is more than that.

SonnyG10 said...

If Ramos does not develop as expected, I think Flores has a chance to be our number 1 catcher...if we keep him.

Unkyd said...

Having Flores there makes me feel warm and fuzzy, too (in a good way)... But having Speedy McLeadoff starting in CF would have me turning backflips...

Steady Eddie said...

NatsLady --
"More than that" is what I've been wishing as well. A hairy-chested bat off the bench, sure, but it's a shame Flores doesn't also play some other position like first or LF. I keep thinking about how Elston Howard (who did come up as an OF) played first and LF while backing up Yogi Berra, and then Johnny Blanchard doing the same with Howard. Blanchard was not much of a fielder at any position and was in for his bat.

Anonymous said...

There's still Detwiler Mark AND Gorzleanny. Lannan can't pitch out of the bullpen anymore than Wang. I think you may be jumping the guy but then your bias is showing ...

Anonymous said...

Unkyd, Parra is a good target, exactly what to give up, I dunno, but yeah, I think I would do the deal you referenced. He's not really had much chance to play CF, so I'm unsure about his defense. He's obviously fast enough to cover the ground, I don't know about his arm.

Sunderland, disagree just as with your use of the antiquated ERA to measure pitching effectiveness ... specifically John Lannan.

The team bRAA is miserable. Parra won a gold glove in left-field not CF. Right? Finally this guy IS NOT an impact bat on the left-side. That is what they need. That is NOT Parra. I'm not sure how he is an improvement over Ankiel and Bernadina so ... why waste prospects on that guy? When they are grooming Harper, Brown, Goodwin for the position. Throw in Perez and Taylor for good measure.

Getting Parra would seem to be a silly move with Lombardozzi probably able to do a better job at lead off and Desmond starting to get back to where he was at the end of season.

They NEED Lance Berkman. NOT Gerardo Parra!

Anonymous said...

the night that LannEn finally beat the Philies last year.

For those who don't understand the advanced statistics this says it all. In over fiver years Lannan FINALLY managed to escape the Phillie's bats with a W. FINALLY. That may give at least one good example as to why he isn't considered good enough to be a #5 on this staff.

Unkyd said...

bRAAP!!!!

Cwj said...

Anon- Many starters from many teams (including good ones) fell to the Phillies over those last few years.
The Phils were dominant at that time (not so much now).
Lannan isn't my first choice for #5 starter for the Nats. Detwiler is.
But it was clear the Nats had Wang scheduled in for the 5th spot. He is now injured, so Lannan will start in place of him.
Much worse things could happen than having Lannan as a 5 spot.
Again though, Detwiler is my favorite as future (2013) #5 starter.

fast eddie said...

Unkyd/Sunderland:
I agree re: Parra. He'd solve our lead-off problem: .357 OBP, 72 points higher than the Nats lead-off OBP of .285. Plus, he's a Gold Glove LF who can't crack the D'backs line-up since they're loaded in the OF.
I wouldn't trade Flores--let Rizzo figure out who they'll take for their 4th outfielder.

Anonymous said...

I'd give Lannan a 10% chance of being on the squad on Opening Day. One, I think he will be traded. Two, if not traded in the minors. We don't need a 5th starter the first week and Detwiler is a better pitcher with no options. I would think that Davey would keep Detwiler as long reliever and spot 5th starter until Wang comes back so he can keep an extra arm in the bullpen like a Stammen. You have to figure that Davey will slowly build his starters innings early in the year so he'll need the extra bullpen help.
DEM

Section 3, My Sofa said...

That may give at least one good example as to why he isn't considered good enough to be a #5 on this staff.

Considered by whom? There's only three people in the galaxy whose opinion counts.

He IS a #5 starter. Arguing, still, that he shouldn't be is like keeping score as if the umpire had called the pitches the way you think he should have.

Hitter: "That wasn't a strike!"
Umpire: "Sure it was. Look at my indicator, it says right here: Strike 1."

blovy8 said...

Waaaah! The guy who is probably going to be the fifth starter for my club is outperforming his peripherals by half a run, and I don't think 750 innings is enough to reassure me he is actually going to be average enough to take that role!

Post a Comment