Monday, March 5, 2012

Lannan happy with first start

US Presswire photo
John Lannan allowed one run over three innings tonight.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Even in past seasons when he knew he'd be starting on Opening Day, John Lannan never approached spring training as though his place on the Nationals' roster was secure.

Now that the left-hander really isn't assured of a job come April, that mindset is coming in handy.

"I've competed for a spot every year, I feel," Lannan said tonight following his three-inning start against the Mets. "I never took a spot for granted. It just drives me to learn something every day and be a better pitcher."

In the first outing of a 2012 camp that sees him facing an uphill battle to retain his rotation spot, Lannan put together a start not that atypical for him. He was neither spectacular nor horrible. In short, he got the job done, allowing one run on three hits, walking one and striking out one.

The most encouraging stat of the night: Lannan managed to get through three full innings on an economical 43 pitches (27 strikes), becoming the first Nationals starter to go that far in the early portion of camp.

"It felt good," he said. "I got into a rhythm there in the second and third. I'm happy with it."

Perhaps a bit jittery when he took the mound for the first time this spring, Lannan's night got off to a ragged start, walking Mets leadoff man Andres Torres, then letting him steal second. When Daniel Murphy followed with a single up the middle, New York had an early 1-0 lead.

Lannan, though, settled down quickly after that, getting out of the first inning by inducing a 4-6-3 double play from cleanup hitter Ike Davis. And when he again got into trouble in the third, putting two on with one out, he battled and got Murphy to line out and Justin Turner to ground out.

"Johnny was real good," manager Davey Johnson said. "I liked what I saw. He threw the ball good, gave me three good innings. ... Typically he was a little pumped up and overthrowing early. He does that, he's real aggressive early. But he generally settles down and hits his spots and makes it look easy."

So the first round of the month-long battle for the fifth starter's job is now complete, with both contenders scoring 10 points for an even fight. Chien-Ming Wang began the day with two strong innings in an intrasquad minor-league game. Lannan responded with three solid innings against most of New York's regulars.

Round 2 comes Saturday, with Wang scheduled to face this Mets team in Viera and Lannan headed to Lakeland to pitch against the Tigers in a split-squad game.

Much as he tries not to keep score and focus solely on preparing himself for the season, Lannan understands the situation he's in.

"You really can't look at results too much," he said. "I'm competing for a spot, and I'm competing out there against teams I'll be facing in the regular season. I'm trying to get work in, but I'm also trying to compete."


Sunderland said...

I'm rootin' for Johnny Boy

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

Let's try that again:

I'm not worried for Lannan. Isn't Jamie Moyer in camp with somebody, on a non-roster invite? Long-ball will be pitching somewhere, making a nice living while he's doing it.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

I will say, that Harper kid does hustle. I like it.

Cwj said...

Glad he pitched well.
If I had to choose between Lannan and Wang in a must win game, I'd go with Lannan.
He hasn't changed much over the past couple of years. A solid #5 starter.

I really hope the rotation ends up as:

Tim said...

I wouldn't want to see Wang or Lannan in the playoffs.

Cwj said...

Tim- Obviously :)

jimbo said...

I would, because it would mean the Nats were finally playing in the postseason!

jimbo said...

I would, because it would mean the Nats were finally playing in the postseason!

Another_Sam said...

I feel more okay with JL when I consider him as a fourth or fifth starter. I long shuddered with him at the top.

Joe Seamhead said...

I'm not ready to throw Chin Ming Wang under the bus just yet.

Dryw said...

Jimbo, I'm with you. I don't care who pitches for the Nats IN THE PLAYOFFS!!! :-)

baseballswami said...

CMW obviously has talent still - he just seems to be delicate and high-maintenance. With Lannan, you know what you are going to get. I was reading the WPO Jackson story today - his era is not great, he walks a lot of people. Lannan might not pitch real pretty , but he has been solid and stats are not terrible. If he can go longer in games, he would be just fine as a number 5. I think Ross has better stuff but doesn't seem to be able to go long. He can also handle being in the bullpen - maybe better than Gorzo. CMW,it all just seems to be such a chore - the planets have to align perfectly for him to pitch. 30 days for things to start shaping up. It's going to be interesting. Harper showing mucho hustle, by the way, makes me smile :)

Rabbit said...

I'm not a Lannan fan, but he did look pretty good. But, maybe package him with Desmond?

Anonymous said...

I hope he pitches well so that he has better value in trade. The guy is a solid back end starter but we just don't need this piece for our puzzle. I hope he goes someplace and pitches well.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure that there is really much of an actual competition going on. If Wang is hitting low 90's with his sinker and is healthy, then the job is very likely his, I have to think. Lannan has the Option and is, as we all know, tradable. Barring injury to someone, I think that even Lannan has to be guessing that he's not going to be playing for the Nats for much longer. I am guessing he'll end up in the AL, maybe Detroit or Boston.


baseballswami said...

I am such a homer of a fan that the thought of losing any of our guys is sad. Mentally I know it will happen and has to happen. I was even sorry to see Peacock and Milone go and they were newbies. I will miss Livo and Pudge and cheer for the new signees, but it usually takes me some time to warm up to the new guys. Gio, though, seems to reach right out there with his personality - likeable pretty quickly. I think of all the new guys he will become a fan favorite the quickest. I also think DeRosa might become a respectable piece of the puzzle. When will the 25- man start becoming apparent? Will be it go right up to opening day? My fan-heart needs preparation.

NatsBrat said...

The Oppo Boppo guy twice does some real smart hitting out of the box, and all some sports' writer can ask is some dumb question about his lack of power hitting.

It could be worse, I suppose; the sports' writer could be his hitting coach!

Go Harps! Goooooooooooo Nats!

Anonymous said...

A part of me is thinking Lannan might stay afterall... in the bullpen with Detwiler.

Originally, it was thought that Det and Gorz would be the long men out of the pen. Given the fact that Gorz can be released for $500k and save $2.5 million...

Obviously, it very early and a lot can change. But, I have a hard time seeing Lannan in AAA, especially if the Nats want to keep his trade value. He loses value pitching against nobodys in the minors.

My early guesstimate is Wang as the no.5... with Det and Lannan in the pen as long men. Ultimately, Lannan is dealt.


NatsLady said...

Was working last night, so went on this morning to watch portions of the game. :)

Re: Harper beating out the single. Good hustle, but as noted by the Mets announcer, the 3rd baseman lost time by tapping his glove. Why do guys do that? Is it a (bad) habit, or does it help to stabilize the throw?

Re: Zach Walters. That was a great play. Desi's made lots of great plays. The question is the day-in-day out. Still, good to have Walters on our side. I'm liking this Eury Perez.

Re: CMW and Lannan. You know my opinion.

NatsLady said...

Brad Peacock out there in LaLa land gave up a boomer to Albert.

SCNatsFan said...

If Lannan has a good spring it sure makes things interesting, doesn't it? I have to think that all he is doing is increasing his trade value, and I'm OK with that.

NatsLady I agree about tapping the glove, but loved to see the hustle. Can't teach that.

First impressions of Rendon... boy is he small.

Natcho Chips said...

Mark: is it really down to "both contenders," meaning only two. Isn't it possible Detwiler could win the 5th spot? His last two starts in 2011 topped anything by Lannan or Wang. Plus Detwiler could be a big part of our rotation for many years to come.

joemktg said...

NatsLady: it's a bad habit, and (good) coaching from youth to HS to Travel/Showcase to College try to break it. Obviously you see it on double/triple shuffles where idle hands seem to want to do something when the upper body is not in position to throw (which it should be). What slowed the 3B's response was not the double tap, but the double step/shuffle: that ball was hit too slow for a double step. Should've picked and threw a one stepper.

D'Gourds said...

Tapping your glove with the ball is just a timing mechanism to get your feet time to get in synch with your body. But in a bang bang play you just have to throw the ball ASAP regardless of what your feet are doing.

Doc said...

SCNatsfan, I thought the same thing about Rendon. But as one of the announcers pointed out he has really good upper body strength.

Rendon also has this outstanding BB rate--he worked one last night. His OBP in college must have been off the page.

NatsLady said...

Will have to watch Zim on that type of play, but I have a feeling he might have got Harper. Do love the hustle--that kid is smart, too, analyzing the pitchers.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

Third basemen, who generally have more time, but longer throws, can take a little time getting a good handle on the ball, when they think they have time. Other fielders do it, too, but you're more likely to see it from third.

Getting the ball deeper into your hand helps to make a stronger throw, and it helps if you can get the seams where you want them (a four-seam fastball grip is preferred), so to do that, it helps to push against something--in this case, the other hand.

But the Mets third baseman underestimated Harper's speed. Mistake. I'll bet the Mets don't do that again soon.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

And yes, you can be sure Harper saw something in the way [Justin Turner?] played third that told Harper he could do that.

I haven't had a chance to actually watch Bryce play before. I'm beginning to see the light.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

Vinny Ronino at third there.

JaneB said...

I loved learning about why they tap the glove like that -- thanks y'all. I always wondered that (I only WATCH baseball. Never played it -- no softball, beyond adult rec leagues where the point is going to the bar afterwards).

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