John Lannan likely to start Opening Day for the Nationals
The Washington Nationals are leaning toward naming John Lannan their Opening Day starter, but the decision has not yet been finalized, manager Jim Riggleman said this morning. The Nationals have aligned their rotation to let Lannan pitch April 5 versus the Philadelphia Phillies, but they could also give the ball to free agent acquisition Jason Marquis in case weather of injury alters their spring schedule.
"The likelihood is that Lannan will pitch," Riggleman said. "We feel comfortable with either one of those guys pitching the first game."
Lannan, 25, represents a homegrown choice for Opening Day at Nationals Park, a player the Nationals drafted and developed into a frontline starter who is entering his third season. Marquis, 31, was an All-Star with the Colorado Rockies last season and is 10-year major league veteran.
"It's definitely an honor to get the ball, but either way they decide they can't make a wrong decision," Marquis said. "John's done some great things here. He's an organizational guy. I think he deserves it. It comes down to winning ballgames. If I get the ball or he gets the ball, we're going to compete. If it's Day 2 for me, whoever I'm facing Day 2, that's who I'm going to try to beat."
Lannan started Opening Day last season against the Phillies and lasted only three innings, surrendering six earned runs on six hits and two home runs. In four starts against Philadelphia last year, Lannan went 0-3 and allowed 13 earned runs in 22 1/3 innings. Marquis won his lone start against Philadelphia, allowing two runs on five hits in seven inning.
The pitchers - both New York natives - had remarkably similar statistics last season:
Pitcher INN ERA SO/BB WHIP ERA+ AGE
Lannan 206.1 3.91 1.31 1.347 108 25
Marquis 216 4.04 1.44 1.380 113 31
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