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Feeling fine

Let this stand as a reminder that we're chatting today at 2 p.m. Yesterday's game was just the latest with plenty of zest (and none of it owed to Nelson Figueroa). My gamer begins with the man who ended things -- New York closer Luis Ayala, who evidently didn't pack the kerosene in his duffle bag when he left for his new team -- but here, I thought I'd share a few words about the pitcher who started things, John Lannan.

In his last few starts, dating back to mid-August, Lannan has been... just OK. During his last five outings, he's given up 22 earned runs and 31 hits in 25-1/3. He's now pitched 163 innings this season -- and he's looking like he's up against a wall.

He went only three innings (eight hits, five runs, two homers) yesterday before Manny Acta lifted him for a pinch hitter in the top of the fourth. Granted, that early removal had much to do with the September rosters; Acta has an inflated bullpen, and thus, is more willing to go to it early. But Lannan's performance dictated the decision.

After the game, the rookie said his arm felt great, actually. The only tell-tales of a tough night were the first-pitch balls he threw to hitters like Carlos Delgado, who's as hot as any player in the NL right now.

"I felt good, but made mistakes and got hurt with them," Lannan said.

Asked if he's getting tired because of the season-long workload, Lannan said, "No. I felt fine today. I mean, the second inning, the first inning, I thought I was throwing pretty well. But in those situations where I was supposed to make a good pitch, I didn't make a pitch. I feel fine."

Acta echoed those sentiments: His starter is OK.

Which means he'll take the ball again on Monday... yes, against the Mets.

By Chico Harlan  |  September 10, 2008; 8:21 AM ET
 
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Comments

Chico, your game story was very good. I like adding in humor when it was such a strange ball game. I don't want it, you take it. I guess it was inevitable that some pitcher would finally be able to do a one-two-three inning. But Ayala?

Posted by: JohnR(VA) | September 10, 2008 8:44 AM | Report abuse

I won't have time for the chat and I don't know how to post a question in advance, so maybe this will make it:

Charlie and Dave said last night that Ayala since he went to NY has abandoned his sinking FB and gone to throwing almost exclusively a four-seamer. This seems wrong (judging just by his GB% since going to NY), but would be a fascinating change in approach for him. Can you find out about this?

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | September 10, 2008 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Could there be a more sublime pleasure than pulling the Sports section out of the day's Washington Post only to find a prominently placed piece of prose by Barry Svrluga right there, waiting for you to peruse it? Too bad he's writing about the Redskins now, but I just have to say it, yet again. Bravo, Barry!

Posted by: did you see it? | September 10, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Dear Barry, we love you already. Please stop trying to boost your memory by repeatedly posting in your old blog under fake names, it's really kind of tacky. I promise, we'll remember to invite you to the picnic.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 10, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Last year, Lannan was shut after his innings total hit the ceiling management had set for him.

That was August 25th. He had thrown 157 1/3 innings between the Nationals and his minor league appearances.

It's now September 10th, and Lannan has pitched 163 innings, an increase of just over 3% from last year. It's hard to believe he's hitting a physical wall.

A mental wall? Perhaps.

Given his last few starts and the new wealth of bodies in the bullpen, I understand Manny's willingness to give the ball to the relievers last night. To try to remain competitive against a team in the heat of a playoff drive is the fair thing to do. It's also a part of the early auditions for several youngsters.

And if Lannan had been left in and continued to struggle, it may have lurched his slump into perpetuity.

Still, I would have been tempted to let Lannan try to fight it out. Bergmann was pulled as a starter because he couldn't right himself in these situations. Do we know if Lannan can?

Posted by: John in Mpls | September 10, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

"Still, I would have been tempted to let Lannan try to fight it out. Bergmann was pulled as a starter because he couldn't right himself in these situations. Do we know if Lannan can?"

Yes. He's done it in the past, more than once.

Posted by: go back and read Chico's gamers, it's buried in there somewhere. maybe. or maybe not. | September 10, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like you're not reading what Barry writes any more. Don't worry, he's not reading what you write, either - and probably he never did.

Posted by: 506's snark has a groin pull | September 10, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Hi 419+1. We missed you.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 10, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Can't see any reason not to allow Lannan to finish out the season to get a full innings. A 10% increase in innings won't kill him, though a 25% increase may. Lannan is top 10 in the league in Quality Starts, he can't be perfect every time and was going against a potent and hot lineup last night.

The sky is not falling.

Love seeing our 9/1 callups though, since we have no incentive to win right now and should be testing everyone we can. Can't wait to see Martis again. Mock looks good. Estrada doesn't look ready. Manning is pitching his way off the roster while Hinckley makes his case to be loogy next year. Shell has been a find and looks to be a cheaper and better replacement for Colome (though Colome's been pretty good the last few weeks).

Posted by: Sec131 | September 10, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

don't ever remember hearing that Ayala was a bad guy or wasn't trying. It just wasn't working - divorce, whatever.
Posted by: FFLop

"...charlie and dave were on the radio with Ladson and he said that Ayala
was peeved at not getting the closer job. Ladson pretty well trashed him on
the air."
Posted by: masnstinks | August 17, 2008

Not sure of the details, but Ayala requested a trade weeks earlier. There was mention he'd been a closer in Mexico, so Rauch then Hanrahan must have made him see the writing on the wall.

Posted by: cat daddy | September 10, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

"Ladson pretty well trashed him on
the air"

Ladson is the king of grudge. I'd take what he has to say about player's personality with a Dmitri Young sized grain of salt.

Posted by: Consider the source | September 10, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Anon at 11:40, I just can't come up with a response, I'm crying too hard because I know you're right and Barry never did pay attention to what I wrote. My life is a lie.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 10, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

In theory, Lannan should be able to increase his innings 15% or so year to year without triggering a red flag. But are there tell tales that he is not well? Any sign his velocity is slipping? Anyone good at picking up changes in his delivery?

The only thing I'd add is I'd be curious if the Nats do strength testing on pithcers shoulders during the year. Some teams, like the ones that shut down guys early to avoid serious injury, have such programs. Since we all have confidence in the medical staff, I wonder what sort of program the Nats have and how it compares to other teams that do not rely on leeches and bleeding to affect humours and spirits.

Posted by: PTBNL | September 10, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

there's a difference between "feeling good" and reaching your limit on effective innings pitched. Lannan professes the former, performance shows the latter. his ERA rests higher today than after every start he's made since his third of the season. statistics, in this case, do not lie.

i'm not suggesting he be shut down, since he isn't feeling any fatigue or pain. as a previous poster mentioned, he should be able to withstand this year's increase of innings pitched without alarm. just don't expect the future innings this season to be as effective as the previous.

Posted by: Dave at Bottomfeeder Baseball | September 10, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Ah, P, you're SO last milennium! They use titanium necklaces. Nobody uses leeches anymore. Well, hardly anybody.

****************
I wonder what sort of program the Nats have and how it compares to other teams that do not rely on leeches and bleeding to affect humours and spirits.

Posted by: PTBNL | September 10, 2008 1:33 PM

Posted by: ce | September 10, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

"there's a difference between "feeling good" and reaching your limit on effective innings pitched. Lannan professes the former, performance shows the latter. "

There's also something called a slump. Pitchers can suffer from it, just like hitters do.

"Since we all have confidence in the medical staff, I wonder what sort of program the Nats have and how it compares to other teams that do not rely on leeches and bleeding to affect humours and spirits."

Leeches and bleeding are as effective against slumps as any other medical or non-medical treatment, statistics show. Possibly even more effective than growing a porn star 'stache or wearing a gold thong. Has Lannan exhausted all possible remedies yet?

Posted by: 506's snark has a groin pull | September 10, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Dave--Seriously, how do you tell the difference, statistically, between a guy who's getting tired, and a guy who picked up a bad habit (on or off the field, come to think of it)? Or a guy the league is adjusting to, and he's not counter-adjusting?

**********
there's a difference between "feeling good" and reaching your limit on effective innings pitched. Lannan professes the former, performance shows the latter. his ERA rests higher today than after every start he's made since his third of the season. statistics, in this case, do not lie.

Posted by: Dave at Bottomfeeder Baseball | September 10, 2008 1:49 PM

Posted by: ce | September 10, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

He needs a chicken.

**********
Has Lannan exhausted all possible remedies yet?
Posted by: 506's snark has a groin pull | September 10, 2008 1:59 PM

Posted by: ce | September 10, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Gold, huh? Does it have to be real gold, or just lamé?

*****************
Possibly even more effective than growing a porn star 'stache or wearing a gold thong. Has Lannan exhausted all possible remedies yet?
Posted by: 506's snark has a groin pull | September 10, 2008 1:59 PM

Posted by: NR John L | September 10, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

"Gold, huh? Does it have to be real gold, or just lamé?"

Sorry, I can't tell you that. I wanted to inspect Giambi's thong, I really did. But for some reason, I just couldn't. Does that make me less of a man than my fake handle would lead you to believe I am?

Posted by: 506's snark has a groin pull | September 10, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

"Chico Harlan: Ayala became a headcase here, and I think some of that is fairly attributed to his dissatisfaction with his role after Chad Cordero went down. Ayala and Rauch, let's say, were not the best of friends. When Rauch was given the closer's job, Ayala wanted it. "

And gee, how nice of Chico and his predecessor Barry to have kept us all up to date on this conflict between players as it played out over the last four years since the team arrived here. Oh wait, never mind. I must have confused this with the multitude of stories about the Reskins' punter not liking the color of socks his long snapper was wearing on the third day of minicamp.

Posted by: 506's snark has a groin pull | September 10, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

WHAT?! There were players in the clubhouse that didn't get along? I'm shocked, SHOCKED I tell you.

Guess what 506's snark, this happens all the time, with numerous players on every team at every level. Do you want Chico/Barry to call you every time one player is ticked off at another player?

Posted by: ntr Jeff Kent | September 10, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

"Guess what 506's snark, this happens all the time, with numerous players on every team at every level. Do you want Chico/Barry to call you every time one player is ticked off at another player?"

No, of course not. But the first time we hear as much as a rumor of it shouldn't be a month after both players - who had been in the same bullpen together for over four years - have left the team, and especially when this dislike of each other seems to the biggest contributor to both of them being gone. Wouldn't you agree?

Posted by: 506's snark has a groin pull | September 10, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I guess it's pick on Dave (and 506) day, but do you seriously believe ANY player, much less a pitcher, who says his recent ineffectiveness because he IS hurt?

Except for Ryan Church, that doesn't happen until way, way later, with this team, that's sually when it's too late.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 10, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

My sentence got all jumbled up. My point is that I think it's kinda cute that you believe Lannan when he says he's not hurt.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 10, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

It seems to be pick on 506 day for only one person, NatsNut. The one who courageously (not) chooses to use the "name" block to break the rules against personal attacks.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 10, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Could I hear a few comments from the cognoscenti regarding Osvaldo Rodriguez? I am somewhat new to this sport. And did anyone find out where he was for the two missing years? He's with our PNats now.

estoy firmado! Segue to Segway! Go away FBI! Your General Manager and YMOS James Gordon Bowden III


Posted by: Jim B | September 10, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

"The one who courageously (not) chooses to use the "name" block to break the rules against personal attacks."

Hey, don't you go ragging on me now!

Posted by: ntr Lerners ARE Cheap | September 10, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

My heckler doesn't bother me, though I am uncomfortable with everyone talking about my snark. I might tell an adult I trust.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 10, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

"Chico Harlan: Well, gotta run. That's all the time we have for today's chat. Just remember to set your DVR players for tonight's game. Some day, you'll want to sit your grandkids on your lap and tell them about Shea Stadium."

Only if your the type of grandparent who would take his kid to Freddy Kruger movies.

Posted by: PTBNL | September 10, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Freddy, new post, with disembodied heads (really).

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 10, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Baseball is a game of adjustments. Lannan is now on his 3-4 time around the league, especially the NL East. This may be the issue. If he is going to be on this team when it is competitive he needs to learn how to pitch in September will he gets tired. He can do it.

Posted by: Tom | September 10, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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