Monday, March 26, 2012

Davey: Lannan is 5th starter [updated]

US Presswire photo
John Lannan is scheduled to make two more spring starts, including today.
Updated at 4:56 p.m.

VIERA, Fla. -- With Chien-Ming Wang likely to open the season on the disabled list while recovering from a hamstring injury, manager Davey Johnson this morning confirmed what had long been assumed: John Lannan will open the season as the Nationals' No. 5 starter.

"John's my guy," Johnson said. "I like John. And John can pitch. He led our club last year in wins."

Lannan, who went 10-13 with a 3.70 ERA in 33 starts last season, looked like the odd man out of the Nationals' crowded pitching staff when camp opened and was a strong candidate to be traded. But once Wang injured his left hamstring March 15 trying to make a play at first base, Lannan stepped in to take over his slot in the rotation.

Lannan made the first of two final Grapefruit League starts today and turned in one of his best performances of the spring: Over five innings against the Astros, he allowed two runs on two hits, striking out five while keeping his pitch count at a modest 71.

"I kind of just gave myself a chance," he said. "I trusted it. I wasn't so hard on myself. I just let it work. I just tried to throw as many strikes as I possibly could."

Though he heard plenty of rumors surrounding his future -- that he would be traded or perhaps optioned to Class AAA Syracuse -- when camp opened, Lannan insisted it never fazed him.

"It's basically just rumors," he said. "I mean, I know what I am, and I've had success. That's all I can focus on: What's made me successful and just to get better. So I really haven't focused on any of this stuff that's been outside. To me, it's just noise and it doesn't really affect me."

He also never sought any words of reassurance from Johnson.

"Davey's got a lot on his plate. He doesn't have to worry about me," Lannan said. "There's other things that he might need to worry about, but I want him to know he doesn't have to come over here, tap me on the back and say: 'Hey, it's going to be OK.' I just don't need that from him."

Lannan's inclusion in the rotation leaves left-hander Ross Detwiler in the bullpen as a long reliever to open the season. Though the Nationals still like Detwiler as a starter in the long-term, they aren't inclined to have him swap spots with Lannan for now.

"I don't know that Lannan has even relieved in his career," Johnson said. "So it's not something I'm going to even entertain."

That said, the Nationals will still attempt to get Detwiler stretched out over the remainder of the spring in case something happens and he's needed as a starter. He's due to pitch behind Lannan today and then is likely to start a minor-league game later this week, throwing up to 80 pitches.

As was the case at times last season, Johnson will use Detwiler on more of a starter's schedule out of the bullpen, giving him more time off between appearances. Tom Gorzelanny, also slated to open the season in the bullpen, will be used on more of a traditional reliever's schedule.

Detwiler is still getting used to that role.

"I'm a big 'routine' person," he said. "That's what's kind of throwing me off right now: I'm not on the same routine I've been on. That's something I have to adjust to."

All of this appears to leave right-hander Craig Stammen as the odd man out and destined to open the season at Class AAA Syracuse.

"I love Stammen," Johnson said. "It's no secret I liked the job he did in August, him and Gorzo. Ideally, I'd like a long [right-hander and left-hander]. So those are good questions you're asking; they're things I think about every day. But again, it usually sorts itself out if we just give it time."


SonnyG10 said...

Sure glad we still have Lannan to count on.
Would like to see Wang recover and take the job away from him...unless John is lights out of course.

Section 222 said...

And John can pitch. He led our club last year in wins.

Non-sequiter of the year.

Of course, this could be part of the PR strategy to build up his value if Rizzo is still shopping him.

PAY TO PLAY said...

Nice to hear that Davey has set the rotation.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

Of course, this could be part of the PR strategy to build up his value if Rizzo is still shopping him.

I really don't think MLB GMs are much influenced by stuff like that. As far as I know.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

Oh, yeah, and B25GN!

blovy8 said...

Ugh, I predict more advanced stat hand-wringing. What'll we do when Lannan keeps putting up above-average numbers?

bdrube said...

Poor John is like medicine. He's just the thing to cure your back-of-the-rotation woes, yet nobody wants to take him. :)

Anonymous said...

Did the Nats get Lannan back? I read on this blog that he was going to get traded several weeks ago.

Cwj said...

Blovy8- In that case hopefully the Nats keep him in the 5th spot, though when Wang comes back who knows what will happen to Lannan.
Davey is definitely right about not putting Lannan in the bullpen. I doubt he would flourish there.

Cease the Opportunity said...

John needs to be bullish on the mound to keep Wang well away...

Anonymous said...

Apparently, AL GM's think Lannan would get slaughtered in the AL with the DH.

Heyman: #tigers interest in lannan only lukewarm at best. 1 exec says al teams are leery of what league switch would do. #nats

Lannan isn' t that good. At some point soon Wang will be ready and then what? Lannan doesn't pitch out of the bullpen as Davey clearly states? He isn't as adaptable as Gorzo and even Detwiler.

Of course he is still on the trade block. Its just a matter of the right team with the right rash of injuries ... but it sure seems like it will be an NL team.

upperdeck4 said...

Sorry, but it's going to be difficult again this season watching Lannan labor through 5+ innings each start and getting routinely crushed by the Phillies. Would much prefer Detwiler getting the slot.

Cwj said...

Anon 1:18- I bet the Orioles would be interested in Lannan.
Other than them, yeah I doubt an AL team would take Lannan.
But who knows?

Anyway good thing he's still a Nat, with Wang injuring himself every few months.

fpcsteve said...

Good for Lannan. I've heard serious baseball fans say you can never have enough pitching. I'm glad he is with us and did well today.

natsfan1a said...

Atta way, Johnny.

Anonymous said...


Reepacheep has loosened his slide-rule from his scabbard ... ready for action ...

Oh dadgum it! My pocket protector didn't work ... hey the ink stain looks like Jayson Werth the Geico Caveman!

Anonymous said...

Ugh, I predict more advanced stat hand-wringing. What'll we do when Lannan keeps putting up above-average numbers?

If Lannan learns to be the pitcher Tommy Milone is he will improve those number dramatically. What does that mean? NO WALKS. NO XBH with men on. LOW pitch count to get into the 7th inning consistently.

Its not beyond Lannan mayhap, but he should have gotten the wake up call when he was sent to AA. THIS IS the final wake up call for John Lannan.

HHover said...

THIS IS the final wake up call for John Lannan.

What the heck does that mean? They're paying him $5M and giving him a slot in a much improved rotation, and that's a "wake-up call" comparable to a demotion to AA?

Anonymous said...

I think it means when Wang comes back he gets sent to AAA instead of AA because he is worthless in relief.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

Unless, of course, by that time, somebody else goes out.

realdealnats said...

For the last three months have predicted Lannan as #5 lefty starter, with Det in the pen and Wang on DL. Not b/c I don't want to see Det's upside more, but it's just the way it is. I don't know baseball like so many of you guys, but I'm psychic, what can I say. Lannan can be boring and somewhat mediocre, but in the pinch he seems to have the capacity to overachieve and pitch decently into the 6th. Wang, who I wish well, and who looked really good for...1 game...he can't be counted on health-wise. Talk of him stealing Lannan's job away is dreaming. Not b/c of talent--but health and longevity. He might start this year, but b/c someone else goes down, and not until mid-season or later.

I don't know how this might happen--and it might actually include Lannan going to AAA later in the season, but I'd like to see Det take over #5, maybe in June or July, with Stammen in the pen as a long righty. Also wish Mattheus could miraculously end up there--probably necessitated by someone going on DL. That would seem to have everyone in the proper role. Plenty of fodder for ridicule here for all the anons.

Kettle calling Pot Black said...

Plenty of fodder for ridicule here for all the anions.

Methinks we get ridiculed more.

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