John Lannan receives another shot at starting opening day
John Lannan took the mound in Miami last April to open the 2009 season for the Washington Nationals and did not last long. He pitched only three innings, allowing six hits and six runs during a 12-6 loss to the Florida Marlins. Lannan said this week that opening day "gets the season going," and Lannan's start last year was the first in a seven-game losing streak to open the season.
On Monday, Lannan receives another shot on Opening Day. He's the Nationals' No. 1 starter and takes the mound at Nationals Park against the Philadelphia Phillies, the two-time defending National League champions who will start Roy Halladay, one of baseball's finest pitchers.
For Lannan, the difference between April 6, 2009 and April 5, 2010 is significant.
"It's a little different," Lannan said. "Last year, I just wanted to be there opening day. I didn't even think about starting opening day. Just wanted to be there, because the year before that I wasn't even there. This year is a little different having another year under my belt. I have a lot more experienced guys around me, teaching me stuff, and I'm going into the game a little more prepared this year."
He faces a lineup that he'll likely encounters a few times this season. Lannan had a 5.24 ERA in 22.1 innings against the Phillies last season, which was the worst Lannan pitched against any National League East opponent and a drop from his overall 3.88 ERA for the season.
After two seasons, Lannan has frequently seen the Phillies lineup and has made adjustment to batters he often faces in the division. The Phillies' top hitters hit from the left side, and Lannan has worked on ways to pitch against the lineup.
"As much as they figured me out, I've figured them out," Lannan said. "I think my strengths can beat their strengths any day. Good pitching always beats good hitting, I think. So, any adjustment they made, I made adjustments as well. it's a game of adjustments, learning from your past mistakes and what has worked. I definitely have taken note on some at-bats of some hitters that ring in my head every time I face them. Sometimes they can be good, sometimes they can be bad. But for the most part, they're good."
As the top pitcher on a team during two forgettable seasons, Lannan can only look ahead -- away from last season's opening day, away from past experiences against the Phillies and away from 100-loss campaigns that have plagued the Nationals during Lannan's time in Washington.
"Our goal is just to forget about last year," Lannan said. "That's our main goal, going into any season, just forget about whatever happened. Everybody is 0-0...We don't want to put a limit on wins, because if you get to that number, what are we going to do from there? Anything's possible in this game."
April 4, 2010; 5:20 PM ET
Categories: John Lannan | Tags: John Lannan, Opening Day
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