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John Lannan is the “leading candidate” to replace Stephen Strasburg in Nationals’ rotation

Aug 24, 2012, 11:51 AM EDT

Florida Marlins v Washington Nationals Getty Images

Whenever the Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg the “leading candidate” to replace him in the rotation is John Lannan, according to James Wagner of the Washington Post.

Lannan has spent nearly all of this season at Triple-A despite throwing 185 innings with a 3.70 ERA for the Nationals last season and being paid $5 million this year. And he hasn’t even been much good in the minors, starting 22 games with a 4.89 ERA and 74/49 K/BB ratio in 131 innings.

He has, however, pitched reasonably well in a pair of spot starts for the Nationals and is already on the 40-man roster, making Lannan a guaranteed September call-up.

  1. southcapitolstreet - Aug 24, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    Poor Lannan. First he gets exiled to the minors after a career year in which he was the Nats’ opening day starter. Now that he’s Strasburg’s “replacement” (when really, he’s just the new fifth starter) he’s going to have to put up with the Skip Baylesses of the world talking about how bad he sucks. Yeah, the $5 million will take some of the edge off, but still.

    • voteforno6 - Aug 24, 2012 at 12:08 PM

      Actually, Livan Hernandez was the opening day starter. Lannan was the previous two years, though.

      • southcapitolstreet - Aug 24, 2012 at 12:12 PM

        Poor Livan too. I guess opening for the Nats is a curse. You either get sent to the minors, released or shut down after 160 innings.

    • bigleagues - Aug 24, 2012 at 12:17 PM

      Poor Lannan?!

      I’m looking at Mike Rizzo right now. He has a set of nuts the size of medicine balls.

      If everything doesn’t go just right over the next two months, he’ll be halfway on his way out the door.

      I’m not saying the Nat’s need to win the World Series or anything like that, but, let’s say they lose NL home field in September and then get bounced in the Division Series.

      Or let’s say they get swept or lose in 5 in the NLCS. Do we look at Davey, a proven winner, who was just using the parts he was given . . . or do we look at Rizzo – the smarter than everyone else GM.

      On the other hand, if everything works out and the Nat’s go deep into the playoffs (say, 7 games in NLCS or reach the World Series and who knows what) then Rizzo is gonna be hailed as some sort of genius.

      Don’t get me wrong, overall, I like and respect Mike Rizzo . . . I just disagree with him – vehemently disagree with him – on Strasburg.

      • natslady - Aug 24, 2012 at 12:22 PM

        What’s your position on Kris Medlen? And Sales if the White Sox don’t win their Division or have the best record in the AL? Just curious.

      • nolanwiffle - Aug 24, 2012 at 12:33 PM

        “Rizzo – the smarter than eveyone else GM.” Where does that even come from? Rizzo is paid to do a job that requires tough decisions. He’s making one, public opinion be damned. I suppose one could either find that admirable or a reason to ridicule the guy simply because you hold a differing opinion.

        Rizzo has spent his career in and around baseball. What are your qualifications to make a decision on Strasburg’s future?

      • natslady - Aug 24, 2012 at 2:43 PM

        Not sure why bigleagues took a gratuitous shot at Rizzo. However, this poster and I tangled a while back on the subject and he put more thought in it than most people.

      • bigleagues - Aug 24, 2012 at 3:42 PM

        I would have responded sooner, but apparently HARDBALL TALK HAS SOME SORT OF UNSTATED COMMENT LIMITATIONS (the bold is to hopefully draw someone’s attention to this at HBT).

        I’m not clear how many comments and/or words trigger a freeze out of posting, but this is the second time this week it’s happened to me – and it’s happened several times before.


        First of all, thank you for the support – even though we disagree on the Strasburg issue. You are circumspect and I, for one look forward to reading your take on all-things Nationals. And now back to our discussion . . . :-)

        I’m not sure if I follow why your interjecting Medlen into this discussion. The Braves have refused to stand pat and allow their pitching woes to resolve on their own. Instead they have done an amazing job of building SP depth on the fly this season. Medlen certainly appears to be more well suited to serve as SP. But with Hudson/Sheets/Maholm/Hanson/Minor – two guys are gonna be the odd men out in the post-season rotation – and Medlen has already proven to be valuable in the bullpen. Also Medlen isn’t – yet anyway- one of the top pitchers in MLB. Overall, just a very very different situation than the Nationals/Strasburg.

        As for Chris Sale, I think what the White Sox did with him earlier this season was embarrassingly dumb and it certainly could have backfired on them in a big way.

        Not to mention that without Sale this season they’d very likely be somewhere halfway between 1st and 3rd place staring up at a Tigers team with a solid division lead.

        At this point, what do you think is a higher priority for Kenny Williams? Making sure his team is equipped and healthy for a deep run into the 2012 playoffs . . . or is he worrying about how Sale will be pitching in 2016?

        Somehow I had missed the takeaway comment from the Boras Washington Post interview last week:

        Rizzo and I put this team together.

        Granted, that I’m highlighting a snippet of a larger quote, but Boras is a highly trained lawyer and obviously a very good advocate for his players, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt on the fact he is now backtracking, , uh, I mean clarifying his comments – but I can’t help but assume that there is something Freudian in that statement.

      • bigleagues - Aug 24, 2012 at 4:05 PM


        First of all, when you have to pull out an old standby talk radio host bail-out as your opening salvo, you’ve already waved the white flag on whatever weak argument it is you are attempting to make:

        Rizzo has spent his career in and around baseball. What are your qualifications to make a decision on Strasburg’s future?

        PUH-LEEEZ, dude. Save it. We all have opinions. Mike Rizzo has an opinion, and just because he is the Nationals’ GM doesn’t mean that he has the right opinion. All it means is that – for better or worse – he is the one who will be held accountable for his opinion.

        Moving along . . . apparently, you and many others believe that opinions contain no grey area. That its either heap silky dollops of blind mindless praise upon a person or you must be a ‘hater’.

        GROW UP. Go re-read what I just said and get your fanboy head out of Rizzo’s ass.

        The last I checked I pretty clearly stated:

        Don’t get me wrong, overall, I like and respect Mike Rizzo . . . I just disagree with him – vehemently disagree with him – on Strasburg.

        There you have it. I disagree with Rizzo on STRASBURG. I am not the lone wolf on this – not that it should really matter if I were.

        The portion of my post that you chose to hone in on . . .

        “Or let’s say they get swept or lose in 5 in the NLCS. Do we look at Davey, a proven winner, who was just using the parts he was given . . . or do we look at Rizzo – the smarter than everyone else GM.”

        . . . is not so much my opinion – but rather an observation about the reality of the discussion that will ensue if everything does not go well.

      • natslady - Aug 24, 2012 at 4:16 PM

        bigleagues, I have run into that limit. Seems to be about 20 posts. Seems to “wear off” in an hour or two and then you can post again. It’s frustrating if you are “into” a discussion on a couple of threads and you get cut off suddenly.

      • natslady - Aug 24, 2012 at 4:31 PM

        I brought Medlen into the discussion because even though the Braves are knotted in a pennant/wildcard race, they are limiting his innings to 130. His TJ was two years ago.

        Stras isn’t one of the top pitchers in MLB–yet–either. Just last week we were reminded of that when he had to be nursed through a rain delay. Also–and I had forgotten this until reminded by Stephania Bell–before Stras had TJ he was on the DL for shoulder problems. You definitely don’t want him compensating and aggravating his shoulder. Stephania Bell had a long discussion of the medical issues on Thursday. You might want to take a listen.

        I brought up Sale because, again, people were saying “Why wasn’t Stras managed like Sale?” I don’t think Sale is a good comp because that was nearly a disaster and if he happens to pitch in the postseason, it will be more by accident than because of some master plan to manage his innings.

        As for the Boras quote, that is a little out of context. He was basically saying that depending on how a team treats his players is how he decides to recommend future prospects, and look how many guys he’s sent to the Nats. It wasn’t very tactful, but it is true.

      • natslady - Aug 24, 2012 at 5:00 PM

        In regard to your remark about Sale, the same applies here, in that maybe the Nats would be a (projected) 85-87 win team instead of 95+ wins if they hadn’t used Stras to get where we are now. Regarding Stras as a precious resource (which I do) do you need him more to get to the playoffs, or to win them? That is assuming you can’t do both, which I believe you can’t without him pitching 230 innings–which is WAY beyond 160.

        Also, as I stated below, if he pitches into October is is missing that month of rest/recovery, so do you start him a month or two later NEXT season and handicap yourself 2013?

        There is no good answer. RIzzo gave a 50-page presentation to ownership in January. I think his job is safe.

      • bigleagues - Aug 24, 2012 at 5:40 PM


        On Boras first . . . yes out of context, but somewhat supporting of what many already believe about him.

        And while your interpretation of his comments is valid, I believe it is far more accurate a read of his statements is that a guy in Boras situation with a team like the Nationals has a good deal of leverage with which to throw his weight around.

        I think most people would agree that Boras appears to have a good working relationship with the Nationals – and a big part of that is that the National’s have had the opportunity and resources to sign and pay his clients.

        I’m sorry, I’ve got to cut this short . . . I want to discuss this more, but I have become WAAAAAY to distracted by all the news flying out of Boston and LA right now.

  2. keithbangedyermom - Aug 24, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    Those cheers you hear are from Braves, Giants, Reds, Dodgers and Cards fans.

    • voteforno6 - Aug 24, 2012 at 12:09 PM

      Not so much from Braves fans. Lannan has pitched pretty well against them.

  3. natslady - Aug 24, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    No one cares how Lannan pitched in the minors. His job was to stay in shape and be ready for his call-up. He just about rescued the season in the ATL series after the Nats blew the 9-0 lead and then lost the Saturday afternoon game. He’ll pick up a couple of starts in September, so only the Cards and Dodgers have anything to “cheer” about. He does quite well against Atlanta… Very remote chance anyone except the Fillies will see him in October…

  4. heyblueyoustink - Aug 24, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    Hopefully he learned not to hit Chase Utley in the wrist/hands while he was down there.

  5. willclarkgameface - Aug 24, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    All I have to say is that I guess winning isn’t important to this organization. I hope Rizzo and the entirety of the Nationals roster enjoys watching the playoffs from the couch.


  6. dkphilly1122 - Aug 24, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    No one needs any “qualifications” to realize Rizzo is an idiot regardless. I’m a diehard Phillies fan, but if they shut Strasburg down that’s a dumb move. They shoulda started restricting his innings a month or so ago to keep his innings down, yet keep him fresh for the Playoffs. Who’s to say they’ll ever make the playoffs with him on the team again. I’m sure they will cause they’re a young team, but there’s never any guarantees. He’s a stud and they NEED him come a long playoff run, especially against the teams they’ll be facing. I understand they are looking long term, but Baseball is about winning World Series, and if they woulda handled him right already he would be fine for a playoff run and not have too many innings. Him and Gio can go up against anyone else’s top two pitchers without a doubt in a series.

    • natslady - Aug 24, 2012 at 1:19 PM

      One more time. It’s not innings, it’s starts and pitches,l and how the starts go… They already have restricted his innings per start. It’s not a magic formula where if you chop 3 innings off one game you can add them in later in October. Once he starts, you want him to go five or six or he might as well be a reliever. (And you do want to win those games, because you are still competing for the Division and the best NL record.)

      Skipping starts and shutdown/restart have been discussed ad nauseum. JZ was shut down August 31, so they are already stretching Stras beyond that to some extent, if he goes a few starts in September. In addition to limiting his innings, he needs the full amount of months off for recovery (October to Feb/March).

      Rizzo said from the start Stras would pitch in the normal rotation like the other ML starters. And that is what has happened. Just remember that he pitched for the first time after a rain delay this week, and he had to be coached through it. He is young and believe it or not, inexperienced. Yes, he’s a dynamic talent, electrifying when he’s “on.” But he isn’t Verlander–yet.

  7. prosourcetalk - Aug 24, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    Lannan sucks

  8. keithbangedyermom - Aug 24, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    You Nats fans are a riot. Pollyanna has nothing on you. I must admit I am going to enjoy the inevitable train wreck once it happens.

    • natslady - Aug 24, 2012 at 5:32 PM

      #NatsFansAreHappySheep because #InRizzoWeTrust

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