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John Lannan's worrisome inning

For four innings last night, John Lannan felt great. He allowed the Colorado Rockies two hits and two walks, shutting them out in his return to the mound after missing a start. He returned bite to his sinker, "everything was working fine," he said.

In the top of the fifth, the Nationals sent seven batters to the plate and scored four runs. Lannan made no excuses afterward, but that inning only added to a night of brutal conditions for pitching. Lannan had not pitched in 10 days. It was cold and pouring rain. And now, as he waited between innings, he felt his elbow stiffen.

Lannan retreated to the clubhouse, trying to stretch and heat his elbow and loosen up his flexor tendon. "But it wouldn't loosen up for me," Lannan said. "When it happens, it's kind of hard to get to finish on my pitches."

And so Lannan's night turned sour. He would not escape the fifth inning, recording two outs while yielding four runs on four hits and two walks. With his tendon tight, Lannan's lost his control and, really, ruined his night.

"The first four [innings] felt good, warming up felt good," Lannan said. "And then it tightened up. When it happens, it's kind of tough to really control, to really get out there and extend. The ball was up, and I wasn't able to make big pitches when I needed to. No excuses. It feels fine now. In that inning, it kind of tightened up a little on me."

The Nationals can only wait to ensure Lannan will assume his typical spot at the top of the rotation. Although Lannan said he felt fine afterward and "this definitely isn't a setback for me," Manager Jim Riggleman needed more reassurance.

"I'll be more confident if he tells me tomorrow that he's fine," Riggleman said. "I'm not going to assume anything until I talk to him tomorrow. That'll be the test. He didn't feel the same in the fifth as he did in the first four."

The effects of the elbow tightness evidently surfaced. He walked Ryan Spilborghs on five pitches to lead off the inning. He threw a sinker to Troy Tulowitzki that he usually gets more inside, and Tulowitzki ripped a single to center. He threw a changeup to Miguel Olivo, a pitch he usually throws down, and Olivo smoked a line-drive single to left, knocking Lannan out of the game.

Tomorrow will give a clearer picture of Lannan's immediate future. The reoccurrence of the same problem Lannan had healed is worrisome, but it resurfaced only under the worst conditions. Lannan seemed frustrated, but before he left the clubhouse last night he expressed confidence.

"It feels fine," Lannan said. "Just that one inning, it kind of bit me in the butt."

FROM THE POST

Ryan Zimmerman lifted the Nationals to a 14-6 victory over the Rockies with two homers and six RBI, continuing a new sensastion for Zimmerman: winning baseball

NATS MINOR LEAGUES:

Syracuse 2, Norfolk 1: Eric Bruntlett tripled to drive in trying the run and then scored the winning run in the ninth for a walk-off. Andrew Kown allowed one earned run in 6 2/3 innings on seven hits and no walks while striking out two.

Harrisburg 3, New Brunswick 1: Brad Meyers allowed no earned runs on three hits and no walks in six innings, striking out four. In two starts this year, Meyers has allowed no earned runs in 11 innings, striking out 13 and walking two. Leonard Davis hit a home run.

Potomac 7, Winston-Salem 5: Stephen Lombardozzi went 4 for 5. Derek Norris went 1 for 3 with two walks. Michael Burgess went 2 for 5 with two RBI.

Hagerstown 5, West Virginia 2: Trevor Holder allowed no earned runs on four hits and no walks in six innings, striking out three. Steven Souza went 1 for 3 with a home run.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

Still going strong, Ivan Rodriguez may just become the first full-time catcher to 3,000 hits, Danny Knobler writes.

The Nationals offense finally got in gear last night, Ben Goessling writes from home.

The I dare you to not waste five minutes looking at this photoshopping involving Nyjer Morgan.

Sorry for the delay this morning with this post. A technical glitch erased the first version that should have been up a couple hours ago.

By Adam Kilgore  |  May 14, 2010; 10:37 AM ET
 
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Next: A remarkable pitching matchup, a remarkable season

Comments

I wish we could have saved some of those 14 runs for tonight. I have a feeling that we'll need them against Jiminez. Let's hope that Livo's outstanding pitching continues.

Posted by: rbpalmer | May 14, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

That should be "Jimenez."

Posted by: rbpalmer | May 14, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Don't know many ligament/elbow problems that are cured by pitching. Thankfully the cold weather should be behind him until we are in the LCS in late September (notice I didn't get all cocky and say world series!)

Posted by: SCNatsFan | May 14, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

What a night! Nats win big and all of their minor league teams win as well. This winning thing sure is fun.

Posted by: slopitchtom | May 14, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Thank you. Three minutes officially wasted. :-)

Posted by: Juan-John1 | May 14, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I've been asking this same question for weeks:
Why doesn't Guzman just bat righty every time? He stinks batting lefty and is great righty. Who cares what the pitcher is left-right whatever. Why don't they just make Guz bat from the right side from now on?

Posted by: dovelevine | May 14, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Yikes, how about 10 minutes?!

Posted by: PattyinSJ | May 14, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I do not feel good about Lannan. I think it is worse than he is letting on. I would not be surprised if he gets shut down for a while to let this thing really heal.

Posted by: Tom8 | May 14, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Right now the difference between John Lannan and Matt Chico is so small as to be indiscernible to the human eye.

The solution is to have him Marquis-ed, shut him down for awhile, and maybe bring him back in long relief in the post-Jesus era.

My August/September stretch run rotation:
1. Jesus.
2. Livo
3. Olsen.
4. Stammen.
5. Chico/Atilano/Spahn/Sain/Pray For Rain.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | May 14, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Just remember that Jee-zus is getting shut down around the end of August/beginning of September.

Posted by: Section220 | May 14, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

One more reason to love TPlush.

Posted by: gilbertbp | May 14, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

@sunshine

I took you for a young fan.) Not too many of us remembr Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain. Uh, Wang, Deitweiler (sp?), Martin?

Posted by: adhardwick | May 14, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Dovelevine: I think Riggs and the staff are hoping it's just a temporary glitch from the leftside but none the less you're on point with your observation,on another note happy to see Nyjer get a couple last night but does Olivo have his number or what? i'm of the opinion that it's the first base coach and i think last years 1st bs.coach was a holdover from Acta's staff not sure but i think i'm right,no way someone with Morgan's speed should be getting P/O and T/O as much as he has so far this season.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 14, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

It's impossible to guess what the rotation will look like in August.

As Section 200 noted, if all goes according to plan, Strasburg will have about 150 innings behind him by late August, and he'll go to the bullpen.

Will J Zimmermann spend early August in the bullpen and start a few games in August & September?

Will CM Wang be healed, and be effective?
If he is, then he's in the rotation.

Will Lannan regain form?

Is Atilano for real?

Will Marquis ever watch another Presidents Race again?

Well find out over the next few months.

Here's one things i think we can all agree on.
We feel a lot better about our rotation options this year than we did last year.

Posted by: Sunderland | May 14, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

>>Dovelevine: I think Riggs and the staff are hoping it's just a temporary glitch from the leftside

But why even bother? What does it matter? Why is it so important for Guz to hit from the left side. If you can hit you can hit. Zim bats simply from the right whether the pitcher is a righty or lefty and does just fine. Why not have Guz simply bat from the right?

Posted by: dovelevine | May 14, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

dove, because after all these years of looking at breaking balls from rightys one way, he would hit them even worse if he tried to go back to the other side. No chance. It just doesn't work that way.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 14, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

apparently a lot of people have a lot more time to waste than 5 minutes ... me being one of them

Posted by: chillsonic | May 14, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

ftr, <2:00

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 14, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I didn't watch the game last night, and my husband was following via Gameday Audio, so we didn't see what happened on the Nyjer "steal attempt". My husband said, and it could have been parroting Charlie & Dave, that it was a "hit and run" without the hit coming. Anyone see the live/tivo version and able to confirm/deny?

Posted by: LurkerNowPoster | May 14, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

>>Anyone see the live/tivo version and able to confirm/deny?Posted by: LurkerNowPoster

Yea it was a botched hit and run. Ball was so far outside that Kennedy wasn't able to get near it even though he swung. Morgan wasn't anywhere near 2nd when the throw came down and was a sitting duck. This one wasn't his fault. Actually no ones fault.

Posted by: dovelevine | May 14, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

LurkerNowPoster: I'm almost sure it was a hit and run, Nyjer was "DOA" even before he was halfway up the basepath i still think it's the 1st base coach.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 14, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, we don't have splits where Guzman has batted right handed against right handed pitching.
This year, batting left handed against righties he's hitting only .246, with a paltry .323 SLG.
2009 was .277 / .379
2008 was .299 / .402
Career, his OPS left-side is .679, right-side is .733, a .054 difference.

It's hard to guess whether Guzman would be more effective just hitting right-sided all the time.

Doveline's notion is basically, is it the right way to do something because that's what baseball tradition dictates?

We see this with lefty righty match-ups all the time coming out of the bullpen, even when a pitcher or a hitters splits indicate that the match-up is is not important.
Sean Burnett throws left handed, but his BAA was great against righties in 2009, and so far in 2010 he has been wayyyy better against righties; lefties have feasted on him.
Yet he still gets thought of as a left handed reliever to be brought in to face another teams left handed hitters.

Doveline seems to want to shake things up a little bit. Can't be a bad idea.
But Guzman full time right-sided? Won't happen.

Posted by: Sunderland | May 14, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for shaking things up, particularly when you've got little to lose by doing it, but I'd be careful about calling 150 years of empirical testing "tradition" -- as if that were a bad thing. Baseball is a pretty conservative sports culture, generally, for a reason: it's a game predicated on lots and lots of failure, played by human beings. For pro ball, add "this is their career," with the attendant pressures. So most people are reluctant to just start [messing] with their career just for the H of it.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 14, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Will Pudge ever qualify for the batting title? Doesn't seem to matter how many ABs or plate appearances he gets, he still doesn't qualify. If he misses one game, he's shot. What does he have to do to qualify?

Posted by: dovelevine | May 14, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Please don't blame a base coach for any caught stealing. Past tee ball, a base coach is only relevant when the ball is in a location where the runner cannot see it. All pick-offs are the fault of the runner.

Last night's caught stealing was a combination of a terrible pitch to hit on a hit and run, a great pitch to throw on for the catcher, and a muddy track.

#4

Posted by: db423 | May 14, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Will Pudge ever qualify for the batting title? Doesn't seem to matter how many ABs or plate appearances he gets, he still doesn't qualify. If he misses one game, he's shot. What does he have to do to qualify?

Posted by: dovelevine | May 14, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

It takes 502 ABs to qualify for the batting title. He is on pace to play in @ 125 games this year, which means he'd need to average slightly over 4 official ABs per game. Seems unlikely, hitting at the bottom of the lineup as he does. Also unlikely is that his average at 38 will be high enough to lead the league, especially since he doesn't get any "leg" hits and hasn't batted over .300 since 2006. Let's just enjoy this while it lasts.

Posted by: rbpalmer | May 14, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

"What does he have to do to qualify"

Pudge will never qualify for the batting title. Some people will tell you this has something to do with "3.1 plate appearances", but they are just making that up. Seriously, the magic number just happens to be the first two digits of pi? Yeah, nice "coincidence". Give me a break. No, the real reason that Pudge is being barred from the batting title race is because of the first-initial-Rod cartel. They tried to make him be I-Rod, but he stood tall (well, for him), and said unto them "I shall be Pudge". And so he was banished into wilds of the non-qualified, never to appear at the top of the official batting leaders again.

Posted by: joebleux | May 14, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Sunshine on this one. I've seen enough of our pitchers pitching when they shouldn't the last couple of years. I also think the timing is right to give Chico another shot.

Posted by: sjt1455 | May 14, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Actually, it is 3.1 x the number of official games your team plays, which is usually 162: 162 x 3.1 = 502.2.

Posted by: rbpalmer | May 14, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Why don't they just go ahead & schedule Lannan's elbow surgery already?

Posted by: jsparks | May 14, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

joebleux, you are now my favorite person ever.

Posted by: Scooter_ | May 14, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

And it's Plate Appearances, not At Bats.

Most starting catchers do not get enough PA's to qualify.
Last year, of the 30 MLB teams, only these catchers qualified.

Mauer
Y Molina
B Molina
McCann
Pierzynksi
Kendall
Martin
Suziki

It's likely Pudge will not qualify.

Posted by: Sunderland | May 14, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

The Nats have too many junk pitchers that can't even hit 86 on the radar gun. Lannan is never going to win. Neither are any of those other candy arms. They better get Strasburg up in a hurry or the batting practice will continue.

Posted by: lp_lodestar | May 14, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Lannan just isn't right, hasn't been from Day 1 of ST. Last night his pitch speed (if the radar was accurate) varied from low 70's to low 80's. Not that he's a flamethrower but it was all soft stuff that got hammered when he couldn't keep it down in the 5th. The 2 outs he got were both on BB's hit right at infielders. Plus lefthanders are hitting OVER .500 against him. Don't know why management keeps leting him go out there in the face of pretty bad numbers instead of telling him you're not right, get things thoroughly checked out. He's a nice guy and good teammate. I hope he gets things fixed but this notion that he's in the top of the rotation is wrong. Yes, he was when the rotation included the likes of Levale Speigner, Mike Bacik and Daniel Cabrera. But with his soft sinker that has to stay low and out of the strike zone he's really a #4 or #5.

Posted by: Natmeister | May 14, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

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