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John Lannan getting 'back on track'

For most of this season John Lannan would throw his pitches and hope they would do what he wanted, but he really didn't know if they would. That's the difference between then and now. They physical changes Lannan made during his six weeks in Class AA led to the change that mattered most: Lannan had his confidence back.

"That's the main thing for me, is going out there and being confident in my stuff," Lannan said. "I'm more assured of my stuff since I've come back."

Lannan, four starts after coming back, looks more and more like himself. Today, in a 6-2 win over the Braves, Lannan allowed two earned runs on seven hits and two walks. It wasn't dominant, but it was typical of Lannan when he is on -- eight groundouts, one flyout, five strikeouts and a good chance for the Nationals to win.

"Knock on wood," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "It looks like he's back on track."

In the four starts since he's returned, the Nationals are 3-1. Lannan has allowed just two earned runs in each start, yielding eight runs in 23 1/3 innings, a 3.09 ERA.

The most telling difference since Lannan has returned is how he can attack hitters how he wants. Before his time in Harrisburg, Lannan could not approach at-bats with much strategy, because he could not locate pitches where he wanted them, and when he did they were not moving enough to miss bats.

Today, Lannan knew the Braves have a lineup full of hitters who can hit home runs to the opposite field, and so he aimed over the inside part of the strike zone. His success suggested he may finally be the pitcher the Nationals assumed they sent out for opening day.

"I'm feeling better, getting better," Lannan said. "I'm close."

By Adam Kilgore  |  August 19, 2010; 6:58 PM ET
Categories:  John Lannan  
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well, somebody got him to start pitching inside, then. Good. About time.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 19, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Getting close to the elusive (at least for the past two seasons) 60 wins!

Posted by: PattyinSJ | August 19, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

at which point my first preseason bet for the season is lost.

"This thing has 50-something wins written all over it."

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 19, 2010 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Looks like barely over 60 or just 60 if the continue to play .3xx baseball the rest of the season?

Posted by: periculum | August 19, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

5 1/3 is not exactly back on track but it is better than others have done. Thank goodness the bullpen put up on of its best performances today while Derek Lowe put up one of his worst.

Posted by: markfd | August 19, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

I stand firm with my prediction of 73 wins. I think they'll find a little "hot streak" in the next few weeks to get there.

Posted by: baltova1 | August 19, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Lannan has been stable, if nothing else over his last four starts. I'm 'cherry-picking' a bit, but bear with me - (8/1vsPHI= 5IP, 7H, 2ER, nd); (8/6@ATL= 6IP, 5H, 2ER, Win); (8/13 vsAZ= 7IP, 4H, 2ER, Win); (8/19@ATL: 5.1IP, 7H, 2ER, Win).

He seems to be winning games he used to lose (the tight scoring ones), and has reclaimed a #4 spot in the rotation, imo.

Posted by: BinM | August 19, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Just a thought - What about starting Stammen instead of Marquis against PHI on the 20th? Either throw Marquis in at the start of a full inning after the 5th, or delay his scheduled start to somewhere outside the PHI bandbox?

Posted by: BinM | August 19, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Man; Who was that wacko on the game thread spouting all that political mumbo jumbo? nutjob for sure, anyway it's on to Philly and let's see if we can get their fans some payback 2/3 would be nice. Nyjer played well, the Braves tv guy's(Jim&Chip) were crediting Nyjer with infusing the Nat's offense and creating mayhem on the basepath's i agree hopefully this is his sprinboard.

Posted by: dargregmag | August 19, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Sorry! Forgot to mention; very nice job by John Lannan against a very good hitting Braves team, nice strategy and Wilson Ramos called a nice game and nice play on the bunt in the eighth by Prado should have been a doubleplay but Ramos really jumped on that bunt and threw a bullet to get the lead runner.

Posted by: dargregmag | August 19, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Next time that political conspiracy whackjob shows up, everyone hit the "Report Abuse" link, okay?

Posted by: gilbertbp | August 19, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Awesome idea, Gilbert, I'm in.
(I completely forgot about that little link, as I never felt the need to use it until your post)

Posted by: NatAlbert | August 19, 2010 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Even Riggleman will tell you that 5 1/3 IS NOT ENOUGH. Not when a guy who is 10 (possibly twice as old!!!!!) can pitch effectively into the seventh the previous night ... and do it more than you, the defacto ace of the staff, ever has? Lannan should not be considered "back on track" or even "on the right track" until he can do what Livan Hernandez appears to be able to do at an advanced age ...

As Mike Rizzo himself said, competition breeds success. There's your high bar John Lannan! If you can't reach it then you are always going to be AAAA.

Posted by: periculum | August 19, 2010 11:07 PM | Report abuse

John is not good enough to be in a rotation of contending team. The 5 and 6 inning outings just aren't enough. It is time for the Nats to move on from John. I'm sure the Indians or Pirates have a spot for him.

Posted by: dominic10464 | August 19, 2010 11:49 PM | Report abuse

periculum, you seem pretty pessimistic on Lannan. he's gone 5+ innings every outing since coming back and hasnt given up more than 2 ER in each time. Youre right in the sense that he needs to hit 6+ innings each time to be really back. But a 3.09 era over the past 4 games is definitely an improvement!

Posted by: destewar | August 19, 2010 11:59 PM | Report abuse

Its nice to see John returning to form. I know he is a hard worker and glad that hard work has paid off for him. Still, with all the young arms (and some old ones also) in the system he won't have an easy time maintaining his spot in the rotation next spring.

Posted by: cokedispatch | August 20, 2010 12:19 AM | Report abuse

Attaboy, Johnny.

(And thanks for the reminder, gilbert. natalbert, I'm not sure that your parenthetical came out as you intended.)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 20, 2010 6:47 AM | Report abuse

What can you say about Johnny Boy? There's some truth in what Peric says, but who would have thought back in June that "the cavalry" would to this point consist of one Mr. Lannan? Who knows if he'll be in the rotation next year, but at least he's given the rotation a little more stability right now.

baltova1, I admire your consistency and optimism in sticking to your prediction of 73 wins. I have no idea how we'll get there, but I hope you're right!

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | August 20, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Lannan is at best a 5th starter on a good team. His stats the previous two seasons indicated he would be a guy who had an ear between 4.00 and 4.50, not strike out many guys, and be a 5 or 6 inning pitcher. That is what he has done the last 4 games and the Nats shouldn't have expected more considering he doesn't have great stuff or command.

It's shaping up that the only sure starters for 2011 will be Strasburg and Zimmerman with Marquis, Olsen, Stammen, Lannan, and Detwiler competing for the other 3 spots. Livo will be in the mix if he's back.

Posted by: wizfan89 | August 20, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Peric--Lannan's no JD Martin, but he'll do for now.

I'd much rather see Stammen than Marquis go out against the Phils.

Posted by: jp2000 | August 20, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Next year's rotation will also include Maya.

Posted by: fpcsteve | August 20, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Yes, next year's rotation looks like Strasburg, Zimmermann and Maya. I think Marquis will start the season in the rotation just because of his contract. They will give him a chance to try to earn that money. So, one spot left. It could go to Livo, who has definitely earned it, but that would obviously leave out Lannan, Olsen, Martin, etc.

I think Rizzo will also look to sign another free agent starter, although the options are pretty slim after Cliff Lee. If Rizzo doesn't sign anybody he likes, then we will sign Livo right before spring training just like we did this year.

Posted by: SpashCity | August 20, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

At the least Livo could be offered Batista's role if he wants to remain in DC. This season might pumps Livo's price too high for that but if he comes back for the same $ it would be a bargain.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | August 20, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to see Rizzo try and sign Brandon Webb to an incentive-laden contract this offseason. Webb will be a FA and it is doubtful he'll be re-signed by Arizona.

I think he'd be up for signing a one year deal that features lots of bonuses (innings pitched, All-Star appearance, etc) to prove he's healthy again. Then if he finishes the season healthy, he'd be due a hefty pay raise.

Imagine a starting rotation of Webb, Strasburg, Zimmermann and Maya, with Lannan, Livo, Olsen and Marquis duking it out for the final spot.

Posted by: erocks33 | August 20, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Give credit where it's due. Lannan may not have reached 6 innings, but he did a fine job against a tough lineup. I'd say, this year, we'll take it. It really could have been a lot worse (think: swept) with someone else on the mound.

Posted by: DCguy7 | August 20, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

A couple of random thoughts:

1. How many years do people think Livo has left as a productive starter, as long as he takes care of himself?

I think he has three or four. I don't believe that he's 35 - probably more like 38. This means that he didn't start throwing heavy numbers of innings (over 220 per year) until he was 26 or so. The track record has shown that pitchers who limit their innings before 25 or 26 generally can last a long time. Think Warren Spahn, Bob Feller (four years off from 22-26), Nolan Ryan, or Jamie Moyer.
They ought to lock Livo up for 2 years.
It's nice to "count on" Maya and Zimmermann, but really neither has proven they can go 180-200 innings yet.

2. Riggleman can't win. In April, in the Strasburg context, everyone was saying he ruined Wood and Prior because he left them in too long. Now I read on this blog, that he removes his starters too early.

There's no pleasing people.


Posted by: db423 | August 20, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

db423 is right on Riggleman and Strasburg. But I think that we can count on Maya and Zimmermann. There isn't anything that is transparently obvious at this point working against them throwing that many innings. Regarding Maya, haven't Cuban pitchers generally been workhorses? If Livo is pitcher #4, the rotation looks a lot stronger (and the bullpen, too with Stammen and others).

Posted by: fpcsteve | August 20, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I really don't see the Nats splashing any cash on pitching this off-season - especially when they're going to need so many more bats. Even if Dunn stays.

I think the front office has done a pretty decent job of building the organization around pitching - now those guys must be supported with defense up the middle and more consistent offense. Even with a hodge podge staff this season, they're still around the middle of the majors in earned runs.

Posted by: Kev29 | August 20, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Man, Roger's in trouble(ya think?) and if Roger's gettin this kind of heat that can only mean their baking a cake for Barry, on another note hopefully Stras is ready to give the Phil's the blues tonite hope Nyjer is ready to run em ragged thought it was smart of Riggs to give Dunn the day off and i'm wondering if Eck is talking to AD about his situational hitting anyway looking forward to tonight's contest.

Posted by: dargregmag | August 20, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

re: Clemens. The great thing about the truth is that you can tell it over and over again and it never changes. Roger will be having a of of unwanted help in writing his story from here on out.

Posted by: fpcsteve | August 20, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

dargregmag, if you're lying in wait to rejoice over Strasburg beating the Phils, you're going to be disappointed with a capital D if you look in tonight. In fact, you'd best avert your eyes. Marquis is starting tonight.

Posted by: FeelWood | August 20, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

A couple of stray thoughts (not much different than usual, now that I think of it):
--I "stuck by" my 73 wins prediction before realizing that means the Nats are going to have to go 21-20 the rest of the way. Hmmm...
--I like the Brandon Webb idea. Worth pursuing.
--I love how we're convinced Maya is going to be part of the rotation next year and he hasn't even pitched in the big leagues yet!
(BTW, I'm convinced Maya is going to be part of the rotation next year....)
--It would be very sweet indeed to win this series this weekend. A Marquis miracle tonight would help (c'mon, he's due to pitch at least one good game this year!). And I really want Strasburg to shut those punks down tomorrow night.

Posted by: baltova1 | August 20, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Saw Chad Cordero on TV the other night pitching a 1-2-3 8th inning for Buffalo. Mike O'Connor pitched the 9th, and I think got the win.

I never had a lot of confidence in him, but it was good to see the Chief pitching again.

Posted by: KenNat | August 20, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Maya, I believe he's slated to start for the P-Nats on Sunday.

Re. tonight's game, I won't see it in real-time, as I'll be at the Pfitz.

Re. the w-l record, well, we *do* have quite a few remaining games at home, where we've been holding above .500, as well as a fair number of road and home games vs. the NL East, against whom we've held our own fairly well.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 20, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

It's a crying shame they didn't do this with Clippard a month ago. Get a new Manager or GM, please!

Posted by: richs91 | August 20, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

It's a crying shame they didn't do this with Clippard a month ago. Get a new Manager or GM, please!

Posted by: richs91 | August 20, 2010 12:53 PM |

A new GM? Are you kidding? If anything, our GM should be praised for improving our team with the little $$ he was given to do so. Improved bullpen, farm system, and the best draft in MLB....I don't what we should be complaining about in regards to our GM

Posted by: FloresFan | August 20, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Do *what* with Clippard? Did I miss an assignment?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 20, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse


I don't think you missed anything. I think richs meant the Nats should have sent Clippard down to the minors as they did with Lannan.

Because I guess maybe he would come back better? Even though Clippard has been pretty solid all season. Lights out at the beginning. Completely dominating people. Then he hit a rough patch right before the All-Star break, and he has been good in the second half, but not as good as his first 2 months.

Now we have Clip, Burn, and Store...does that work?

Posted by: SpashCity | August 20, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm guessing "sent him down" would be the shoulda, woulda, coulda action in question.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 20, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Daggone it. Now I owe SpashCity a coke. Eh, just put in on my tab. I'm good for it. No, really. I am. ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 20, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I'll take a cherry coke

Posted by: SpashCity | August 20, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

BTW, I just purchased my ticket to watch Yunesky Maya pitch for the P-Nats. Go all by myself for the first time.

Posted by: FloresFan | August 20, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Okey-dokey, SpashCity. :-)

Have fun at the P-Nats, FloresFan! Last time I was there (in July), there was a Ben's Chili Bowl stand, fwiw.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 20, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Oops..I meant I'm going all by myself for the first time..........

Posted by: FloresFan | August 20, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Nice! I love Ben's Chili bowl. Thanks natsfan1a1

Posted by: FloresFan | August 20, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

ta, splash.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 20, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Oops..I meant I'm going all by myself for the first time..........

Posted by: FloresFan | August 20, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

FloresFan, re your potty training updates: TMI dude.

Posted by: FeelWood | August 20, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

LMAO@Feelwood! You literally made me laugh out loud

Posted by: FloresFan | August 20, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Signing Brandon Webb to an incentive laden contract for 20111 would just be the same as signing Scott Olson for 2010. I'm not convinced Olson is all the way back to where ever we thought he should be but I don't think the Nats have gotten their moneies worth this year out of him. Especially with these $250K starts later in the year.

Posted by: CHAMP1464 | August 20, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I figured that's what you meant, FloresFan, and you're welcome re. the Ben's stand.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 20, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

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