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Your Opening Day Starter... John Lannan

John Lannan is 24 years old. In 2008, he was a rookie. In fact, he spent the first days of that season in the minors. But given how Lannan has performed since -- how the team views him as an anchor in its rotation -- his latest step is no surprise. When Washington opens its regular season on April 6 against Florida, Lannan will be the starter.

The team's decision was first reported by MLB.com.

Manager Manny Acta has spoken repeatedly this spring about the team's deeper rotation, but no matter the staff's improvement, Lannan was the clear choice to take the mound against the Marlins. Last season, he went 9-15 with a 3.91 ERA. This spring, in six innings (two starts), Lannan has yet to allow a run.

Why was Lannan the best candidate? Scott Olsen is a newcomer, and his body of work in 2008 and even this spring isn't as favorable. Daniel Cabrera has been shaky this spring -- and long before. The two other spots in the rotation aren't even decided yet.

Last year, if you'll recall, the Nationals sent Odalis Perez to the mound on Opening Day. Perez had been signed just weeks earlier on a non-guaranteed minor league contract.

By Chico Harlan  |  March 17, 2009; 7:26 PM ET
 
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Next: A Bit More About Grissom

Comments

Congrats, John!

Posted by: BGinVA | March 17, 2009 7:30 PM | Report abuse

... yes indeed, congratulations of your good and hard work, John.

... this is not a huge surprise, but I gotta say it this way. Seeing the name in print "John Lannan as Opening Day starter" makes my heart very warm indeed. This, if I'm not mistaken, is the first time the Nats' OD pitcher along with the majority of the rotation, is one of our own, not someone who came from somewhere else. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but knowing the team has reached this level is a good feeling all round.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 17, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

... ops, sorry. My math skills left me there for a (senior's) moment. The rotation is not at all mostly home-made. But the feeling about Lannan remains nonetheless.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 17, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

ESPN.com's Rob Neyer has some thoughts on who should populate the Nats' outfield this coming season.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=3990951&name=Neyer_Rob

Posted by: leetee1955 | March 17, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Ridiculous. The District gives you a fine new stadium. Your wacky GM signs some interesting position players, it's a year with plenty of free agent pitchers, and you're looking at scraps and newbies on the mound? Are you shorting the ball club because Tysons and your other projects are hurting? Do you care? Are you going to keep pretending this mess is a plan? Maybe Boswell can explain it. I can't.

Posted by: joe2chase | March 17, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Natscanreduxit is right about the OD starter..this will be the first time that it will be someone who started with the organization since the Nats came to DC (before Odalis, it was John Patterson--came up with the D'backs--and Livan Hernandez twice--came up, as everyone knows, with the Marlins).

Posted by: sjberke | March 17, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

I te4nd to view the Nationals as a third-year expansion team, since the Lerners took title, rather than an established MLB team because it was owned by and subject to the whims of the other MLB owners until mid-2006. The farm system was pillaged (thanx, Omar) and there wasn't much home-grown depth on the major league level. So, it's about right that a true farm product like Lannan would finally be making an opening day start,

Posted by: leetee1955 | March 17, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

joe2chase offers "Ridiculous", and that may wrap it up quite succinctly. I'm always ready to support a disdainful view when appropriate ... except that I don't know what it is in this case that's supposed to be ridiculous. The post says something about scraps and newbies on the mound, but that doesn't tell me much.

... could you elaborate just a touch, so I can follow? Thanx.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 17, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Scott Olsen being a newcomer has nothing to do with it. He's the best pitcher on the team.

Posted by: sbiel2 | March 17, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse

"Maybe Boswell can explain it. I can't."

Boswell? He can't explain anything. You're SOL, dude.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 17, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Hanrahan: 3 batters faced...

-Struck out Alex Rios on 3 pitches
-Walked Giovanni Soto on a full count
-Andy Gonzalez popped out to second on a 2-1

Solid stuff.

Posted by: AlexL925 | March 17, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and forgive me if this has already been discussed, but the Nats apparently have their AA affiliate for next year: http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/newsstand/

Posted by: AlexL925 | March 17, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

^^edit: ...maybe

Posted by: AlexL925 | March 17, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

That Richmond news is pretty interesting, but I am not sure it necessarily means the Nats will abandon Harrisburg for Richmond. It might make sense, and I guess Pittsburgh could be interested in Harrisburg.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | March 17, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

It seems the WBC game is not on the TV tonight, or is on "The Ocho", to take a gag from that dodgeball movie from a few years ago.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | March 17, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

I can't figure that. There's something about colleges on every channel, apparently. Must be spring break.

Posted by: CEvansJr | March 17, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

It's on MLB Network (213 on DirecTV).

Posted by: AlexL925 | March 17, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm watching the game on mlbtv. Jeeeezus those announcers won't shut UP. I'm thisclose to muting the damn thing.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 17, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

sorry I meant mlb.com video feed. not sure if they're the same announcers as the real TV version. If not, i hope the tv announcers are better than mlb.com's.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 17, 2009 9:17 PM | Report abuse

On TV it's Matt Vasgersian, Harold Reynolds, and Al Leiter. Reynolds is entertaining sometimes, but they're nothing special. All in all though, they're not terrible either.

Posted by: AlexL925 | March 17, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

yea, same guys. i just wish they'd shut up for a second or two. Reynolds keeps saying the same thing over and over in 10 different ways. sheesh.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 17, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Reynolds's voice always reminded me of Chris Rock. He speaks with the same inflection as Rock like he's delivering a punchline. I think I just find him entertaining sometimes because he's so weird like that--sort of an unintentional comedy.

Posted by: AlexL925 | March 17, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

OMG, you're so right. LOL! He sounds just like Chris Rock. Maybe that's what's so annoying. He's not saying anything funny.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 17, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

You are right NN, they just won't shut up.
Reynolds will make a good point then
BEAT
IT
TO
DEATH.
Oh well, we can see it ourselves. I guess they are just as excited by the new season as we are.
Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | March 17, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Youkilis, you killin us ...

Posted by: CEvansJr | March 17, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Damn, Putz has some nasty stuff. The Mets got themselves one hell of an 8th inning guy there.

Posted by: AlexL925 | March 17, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of TV, don't forget the Marlins are in Viera tomorrow night and the game will be on MASN. I imagine it will be our first look at Bob Carpenter and Rob Dibble together.

Speaking of Mr. Angelos' S***ty Network, has anyone heard if they're going to do the same thing with the Nats-Orioles games this season, where had one telecast and rotated both team's announcers through the booth? That was a horrible way to do it, and I can't belive that there was enough room in the booth for both Jim Palmer's and Don Sutton's egos. They pitched the combined telecast as the best thing since sliced bread just to cover the fact that it was nothing more than a cost-cutting move by Angelos.

Posted by: BGinVA | March 17, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

@sbiel2
"Scott Olsen being a newcomer has nothing to do with it. He's the best pitcher on the team."

Scott used to be a strikeout pitcher. He's not anymore.

His K/9 rates:

2005: 9.30
2006: 8.27
2007: 6.78
2008: 5.04

His fastball may be 86-87 this year. His vaunted slider has lost speed as well.

Scott summed it up: "As much as you would say it doesn't get in your head, it probably does. It is a little bit of trying to place the ball rather than trusting your stuff.”

Again: β€œIt just shows for me to be successful I have to get ahead on the count. A lot of the struggles I had ... were from being behind on the count and having to throw the ball down the middle.”

Trusting his stuff to get ahead in the count, Scott may be in a bit of trouble after his typical April fast start. By July and August, he fares much worse. Perhaps it's the cigarettes and the humidity. Not the heat. He has no heat anymore, and all of the hitters in the NL know it. It's not a secret.

So how will he get ahead in the count? Throw his "fast ball"? Scott has a real chance to lead the National League in HRs given up this year. 30 HRs in 2008, one of the league leaders. Look for 32-33 this year?

He's the best pitcher on the team? No, he's not. Thanks, Jim Bowden.

Posted by: nova_g_man | March 17, 2009 10:48 PM | Report abuse

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

David Wright! Clutch hit, baby!

Posted by: Section505203 | March 17, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

WOW!!! D Wright for the win! What a game! It's pretty strange to find myself rooting for an Oriole (B Roberts) and a bunch of NL East guys, but that was a thrilling victory. Simply awesome stuff.

Posted by: AlexL925 | March 17, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Woooo! How am I ever going to get to sleep now? It does feel weird to be rooting for those guys.

BinM called it. Come home, Saul.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 17, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

After reading, I'm with you natscan. Good to see a homegrown Nat take the mound. Congrats, John.

NatsNut, you should have heard the three of them a few games ago. They blathered on and on and very little of it related to what was occurring on the field. Tonight was something of an improvement, I thought.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 17, 2009 11:17 PM | Report abuse

http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/baseball/bal-sp.orioles15mar15,0,3810552.story

Wieters likely to start the season in the Minors according to the Balt Sun. That is a move IMO all about money and may deprive the kid of a chance at a Rookie of the Year award.

JZim (Zim Reaper) isn't the same situation as he is a pitcher and still needs a few more months in the Minors to get ready given his age and experience.

If Strasburg gets signed quickly, I could see him in the Minors for 2 months and follow the same path as RZim to the Majors and go for the 2010 Rookie of the Year prize. How sweet would that be!

PS - The finish of the USA WBC game was crazy good. The NL East players mostly all did well (Dunn didn't have a hit but a good hustle play to 1st) and Saul Rivera and Joel Hanrahan did well in relief roles.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | March 17, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

I think Weiters would still be the favorite for Rookie of the Year even if he was a mid-season callup. If his bat's as good as advertised it shouldn't matter. Braun managed to do it just fine. You're right about the reasoning though--it's all about the money. The kid's been ready for awhile.

Posted by: AlexL925 | March 17, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Thrilling game!! Reminder of how great baseball can be. A shame Puerto Rico didn't have someone better to bring on to close, but it worked out great for the USA.

As for Lannan -- he doesn't seem like Opening Day , front of the rotation kind of a guy, but it's an improvement. As noted above, it's kinda cool to have a homegrown player. Hopefully, he'll have the kind of result Perez gave us last year, in the opener.

The best pitcher the Nats have? If he's healthy, it's Hill. Zimmermann may claim that mantle soon, though. And, how long before we Strasburg is challenging for that honor? Having Olsen and Cabrera in the rotation does not fill me with confidence, but the team is making strides. The 2010-2011 rotation could be dominating.

Posted by: fischy | March 17, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse

As a fan of the WBC headed down to LA for the semi-final and final rounds (and I can't believe I'm saying this - but) thanks to David Wright and Jimmy Rollins. Wow, that still hurts to say, guess the USA pride doesn't beat out my Nats pride.

Posted by: Nats08 | March 18, 2009 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Wonderful article about coach Grissom today. Well, it's off to Viera for golf and baseball. GO NATS

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 18, 2009 5:03 AM | Report abuse

Good morning. Chico has a new post, and the Bog has a Tavarez post.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 18, 2009 7:03 AM | Report abuse

From the Balt Sun article---
If they delayed his promotion until early June, they would also put off his arbitration until after 2012. This might loom large because Wieters is represented by Scott Boras, who doesn't often negotiate long-term deals for arbitration-eligible clients.

Asked whether he is concerned that starting Wieters in the minors will be viewed as strictly a financial decision, MacPhail said: "I don't particularly care about the perception. We have an obligation to do what is in the best interest for him and this franchise."
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

Alex - Good point about Braun, but think how Braun was shortchanged challenging almost every Rookie offensive record. When they extrapolated his numbers over the full season he would have broken the Rookie HR record of 49 as well as the extra base record.

So start the year with Greg Zaun or go with Wieters and worry about arbitration in 3 years instead of 4 or see how he plays and try to give him a long-term deal like the Tampa Rays did with Evan Longoria and tie him up early if he is the real deal (same as the Brewers did with Braun).

This Wieters thing is set to be a feeding frenzy in the Baltimore market. I would expect the team to seriously rethink this.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | March 18, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

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