Yet again, John Lannan, the "ace" of the Nationals pitching rotation had a rough start and got better with time. I like Johnny quite a bit, for his personality and his resiliance. And I'd much rather have the New York kid have a rough first inning or two and still make it through 6 innings than the alternative of a strong 1 2/3 and a complete and utter breakdown after that. That said, only giving up 3 runs in 6 innings isn't the worst outing in the world, although John give up 5 walks. The wind was whipping around out there, but 5 BBs is an unacceptably high number from your starting pitcher; or any pitcher for that matter.
The breakdown really happens with the bullpen, as has been the consistent problem with the Nats for a few years now. While the bullpen is stronger this year with Capps, Clippard, and (kind of) Burnett, Brian Bruney (1-1) has been a Nationals bullpen disaster. Bruney has appeared in 10 games, and has walked at least one batter in all but 3 of them. One of them was a walk off bases loaded walk to end the game last night. On 4 pitches.
The Washington Nationals are paying Bruney $1.5 MILLION this year to be the "primary set up guy," although it's pretty easy to see why Tyler Clippard has actually taken over that role with his bottom basement 0.61 ERA and 19 Ks in 14 innings pitched. Clippard has shown more consistency and stamina in all of his outings. Clippard's paycheck? Just over the league minimum at $401,000.
The 2010 Nationals have proven that they are able to compete with the best of the best, when we get some sort of pitching (i.e. more than 5 innings from a starter and a bullpen performance where the "set-up" guy doesn't walk in the winning run) so maybe it's about time for the Lerner's and Mike Rizzo to find a way to get some consistent arms out in the 'pen to get this team competitive sooner rather than later.