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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."

By Zach Berman  |  April 4, 2010; 5:20 PM ET
Categories:  John Lannan  | Tags: John Lannan, Opening Day  
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Next: Opening morning


Lannan is a smart pitcher... but it only takes a mistake or two to get destroyed by Rollins/Utley/Howard/Werth, etc...

That being said, looking forward to the 3 game sweep over the Phils starting this week...

It is hard to be pessimistic on Opening Day, even under the worst circumstances!

Posted by: Ghost7 | April 4, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Lots of interesting posts today Adam, thanks. Wish they had gotten the deal Dunn by opening day, but hopefully they will do it soon. Very soon.

Got my tickets for tomorrow, plan to get there early and enjoy myself. Hopefully Lannan's luck, and ours, will be better than last year. Go Nats!

Posted by: NatsFly | April 4, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Make that "thanks" to Adam and Zach.

Posted by: NatsFly | April 4, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Remember John, in on the hands against Utley, in on the hands. :-)

Posted by: Kev29 | April 4, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Man the Phillies can hit. Sometimes they're good, sometimes they're bad, mostly they're good. Yep.

Keeping my fingers crossed.

Posted by: markfromark | April 4, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Stupid Dan Snyder stealing the spotlight away from Opening Day. The sports guys (and gals) will be yakking about McNabb for days and the Nats will get pushed to the back burner, as usual...

Posted by: thepostischeap | April 4, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Obvious question: Can McNabb play right field???

Posted by: Eyewitness1 | April 4, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Snyder once again smashes the Lerners right in the face. Don't let anyone BS you, this guy will never let anyone steal the spotlight. I hope in the worst way the Caps win the Cup, just to shove it in the face of the Synder PR Machine. So what should have been the Nats day turns out to be nothing more then a footnote. Can't wait to see what Synder and his accomplices due for an encore come the day that SS arrives at Nats Park. If I sound bitter well thats to bad. Although the Lerners are to blame for most of the poor PR and on field performance, the local sports media has been no friend of the Nats and MLB in general!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | April 4, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

This is the Redskins season,of course.Free agency and the draft,something to get excited about.Once all that is done,and training camp starts,then they actually have to play!That's why I look forward to tomorrow,when another major league season gets under way,when I can watch a team that is building the right way.I just ask that they play hard right out of the gate.Let's go Ian,Ryan,Adam,Nyjer,and everyone else.I'm still delighted to have a team again.

Posted by: seanmg | April 4, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Willie Harris in the starting lineup and batting second. Adam Kennedy is our fearsome no. 6 hitter.

This just does not cut it.

Posted by: nats24 | April 4, 2010 11:57 PM | Report abuse

happy for baseball seasons start. that nonsense from the football side can wait until august. summer is for baseball.

Posted by: joerutgens72 | April 5, 2010 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Absolutely agree about Snyder - the timing of this Skins trade is no accident.

Posted by: Bazz | April 5, 2010 3:07 AM | Report abuse

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