Lannan Proving Worth to Nationals

Nats News

Lannan started in place of Stephen Strasburg

Disappointed over not making the Nationals’ opening day rotation, 27-year-old left-hander John Lannan returned to Triple-A Syracuse and posted marginal numbers this season. Yet he has made the most of his three starts at the Major League level in 2012.

Lannan, who is 41-51 with a 3.96 ERA in 131 starts over parts of six seasons with the Nationals, is 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA in three outings this year. Two of those wins were delivered during spot starts in doubleheaders earlier in the season. The most recent one, on Wednesday, was posted as Lannan started in place of Stephen Strasburg, who was shut down for the season to protect the 24-year-old right-hander’s surgically-repaired elbow.

Unlike Strasburg and left-hander Ross Detwiler, who was given the final rotation spot at the end of spring training, Lannan is not a power pitcher. His velocity remains in the high 80s and sometimes reaches the low 90s.

On Wednesday, Lannan limited the New York Mets to no runs and five hits with two strikeouts and one walk over 5.2 innings in Washington’s 2-0 victory.

Regardless of how well he pitches the rest of the regular season, there is a chance that Lannan might not be part of Washington’s post-season roster. Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Detwiler are expected to gets the starts in the playoffs, and unless an injury arises, there is likely no room for Lannan in the Nationals’ bullpen.

Still, Lannan can gain confidence heading into the off-season by continuing to post impressive outings for the Nationals. He was 9-11 with a 4.30 ERA in 24 starts at Triple-A Syracuse. If he is not part of Washington’s long-term plans, there will always be a trade partner for a soon-to-be 28-year-old lefty who has tasted success in the majors.

A former sports writer for a daily newspaper in Ohio, Jeff Louderback is a professional freelance writer, author and editor who lives in Clearwater, Fla. He writes baseball features for several publications, including prospect profiles for Baseball America. He served as the founder, editor and columnist for Sox and Pinstripes, a blog that covered the Red Sox and Yankees; and BoSox Banter , a site that covered the Red Sox, the Red Sox farm system and baseball-themed travel. Jeff is also the co-author of the life story of former Major League pitcher Brian Tollberg, whose inspirational story saw him rise from the University of North Florida and the independent Frontier League's Chillicothe Paints to a climb up the minors in the Brewers and Padres systems before tasting success in the majors with the Padres. The book will be released in 2015.