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Posted at 4:10 PM ET, 02/23/2011

John Lannan, Jason Marquis fit into the Nationals' spring rotation

By Adam Kilgore

lannan pitch.jpg

Manager Jim Riggleman set the Nationals' starters for their third and fourth spring training games, deciding on John Lannan and Jason Marquis to follow Chad Gaudin and Livan Hernandez.

Though Hernandez has received the opening day designation, Riggleman cautioned not to read too much into Lannan and Marquis following him. The Nationals will have two offdays in the first five days of the season, which will allow the Nationals to adjust if they need to or want to.

"Two of them that quickly kind of makes the scheduling for how you're going to put your starting pitching out there, there's five different scenarios you can use," Riggleman said. "We'll determine that much later in the spring."

The days off also mean the Nationals could choose to carry four starters on their roster until they need a fifth, which would allow them to use an extra reliever or bench player for the season's first week or so. "That's one of the scenarios," Riggleman said. "That's a possibility."

That being said, it would be make sense for the Nationals to follow Hernandez in the rotation with Lannan and Marquis. The Nationals will use match-ups to determine their rotation, which means they may want Jordan Zimmermann to start the fourth game of the season in Florida, where he dominated in one start last season. Lannan would then split up Hernandez and Marquis, two right-handers who rely on sinking fastballs.

So, you can take a good guess at the Nationals' opening day rotation, but it's still going to sort itself out over the next five weeks or so.

By Adam Kilgore  | February 23, 2011; 4:10 PM ET
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Next: Bryce Harper's second day, Chien-Ming Wang's progress, Jim Riggleman's meeting


So assuming no injurries: Hernandez, Lannan, Marquis, Zimmermann, and Gorzelany in the rotation. Storen, Rodriguez (no options), Burnett, Clippard, Coffey, Slatten, and one of Stammen, Detwiler, Balester, Ramirez, Gaudin, Merredith, and Kimball in the bullpen to open the season.

On paper it's the best opening staff they have had even without an ace starter.

Former opening day staff members include:
Joe Horgan, Levale Speigner, Daniel Cabrera, and Julian Tavarez.

Posted by: whatsaNATaU | February 23, 2011 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Well they did have Patterson, Livo, Loaiza and I think Tony Armas maybe? in 2005. This group is not going to pitch as well as those guys did (RFK made that group very good).

Anyway, I am guessing that Rizzo may move Coffey -- maybe to Tampa. Or maybe he makes another move. Something has to give in the log jam. The Rule 5 Ramirez is either on the roster or returned. Rodriguez is out of options yet he cannot throw a strike reliably. Balester has great stuff but also walks too many guys. Gaudin might be a good long guy/spot starter type, but where does he fit in?

Maybe it is on a wild guess -- Hernandez, Lannan, Marquis, Gorzelany in the rotation (Zimmermann stays off to start the season). Storen, Rodriguez (no options), Burnett, Clippard, Slaten (though 2 lefty specialists may be a luxury the Nats can do without), Gaudin, Detwiler and Kimball. Balester has an option I think and maybe they make a trade with the Mets to keep Ramirez on the farm. We'll see. Who knows -- maybe they can package a back-up C and one of these live arms for something else we need.

Posted by: dfh21 | February 23, 2011 5:40 PM | Report abuse

I hope the starting rotation is not as locked up as some writers and bloggers suggest. I’d like to think Yunesky Maya and Ross Detwiler have as good a chance as Lannan and Marquis. I know Marquis and even Lannan have bigger salaries, but that money is already spent. The pitchers who look most dominant in ST should be on the 25-man roster come March 30. Aren’t we trying to field the team that has the best chance of winning games?

Posted by: gibson0 | February 23, 2011 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Quit thinking of it as a rotation. Quit thinking of it as a depth chart, too. It's a list of five pitchers. That's all it is, nothing more. All that matters is the five names that are on the list. The order in which they appear is totally irrelevant.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 23, 2011 6:51 PM | Report abuse

That's not necessarily true @nunof1, Riggleman only has 5
weeks to get his rotation geared up and ready to go so he
has to "pick" his starters now. Gaudin makes absolutely
no sense. That must be another under the table promise. He
won't start again.

Posted by: periculum | February 23, 2011 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Periculum, it's still only a list of five guys. Riggleman can arrange those five guys in any order he wants, it makes no difference. And he doesn't have to decide the order until he finalizes the list.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 23, 2011 8:22 PM | Report abuse

For the Nationals to approach .500, which should be the goal this season, ONE pitcher is going to have to step forward and produce at a much higher level than what is anticipated by the 'experts'.

To me you are looking at a guy like Ross Detwiler that has the draft pedigree and has evidently worked on his mechanics to be able to throw more consistently at this level.

If he could emerge from the pack and put up a 10-12 win season the Nationals could surprise.

The Mets to me look like a team that is going through the process of disintegration.

Their roster is aging and this could be the year you see NY in the basement.

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | February 24, 2011 9:47 AM | Report abuse

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