Tuesday, June 7, 2011

John Lannan Has Turned a Corner

One year ago today, John Lannan was sporting a 5.00 ERA and a 2-3 record. He struggled to throw strikes and struggled even more to keep the ball down in the strike zone. Lannan, the Nats' Opening Day starter last season, was just a few starts away from being demoted to AA Harrisburg for over a month.

Fast forward to last night's dominating performance against the San Francisco Giants. Lannan made his way through 7 innings, gave up just 1 run on 4 hits, induced 9 ground balls, and got 6 strikeouts. He was the benefactor of some decent offense by the Nats, too. Despite all of that, Lannan ended up with a no decision because a combination of Coffey, Burnett, and Rodriguez were unable to hold on. Anyways, Lannan has made it through at least 6 innings in 5 of his last 6 starts. In those same 6 starts, he's induced double digit ground ball outs in half of them.

In 2 of his last 3 starts, he has been the victim of a blown save in his dominating 2-hit shutout performance over 7.2 innings against the Padres on May 27th and a blown 3-run lead on Monday night against the Giants after pitching 7 strong innings. All in all, the Nats are 7-5 (as of 1:03 am EDT Tuesday) 7-6 (edit: Tuesday 9:30am) when John Lannan starts the baseball game, and that ain't bad. The only pitcher in the Nationals rotation with more team victories in starts is Jason Marquis (9).

With every outing, Lannan seems to get stronger, and in 12 of his 13 starts, Lannan has made it through at least 5 innings. His breaking stuff is getting better; his fastball is getting harder with more consistency, getting up into the low-90s. He's striking batters out with increasing frequency. His BB/9 is right at the league average: 3.30, so he's had pretty good control.

With all this good news, I thought there must be something out there that would indicate he was due for an implosion. I read and read and even looked at our trusty friend, BABIP, for assistance. Even there, Lannan is right at the league average: around .300. With the way Lannan has pitched lately, it looks like he may be legitimately here to stay. Maybe that first win over Philadelphia is all John needed to help his career fly upwards. Maybe it's just an anomaly, and he'll come crashing down to mediocrity.

What do you think, CapBallers? Is this the real John Lannan?


  1. JL suddenly looks more aggressive, more confident. Even Ray Knight has been talking about the change. What I have noticed is a sort of crouched up stance before he winds up and more of an uncoiling when he releases. Right now, these are the things we need to focus on instead of W-L - how the team is actually playing. Yes, we want the wins, but we just played the Phils and Dbacks well -- a home/road series of 10 games ( with this sf series), against all first place teams. Now is the time to decide who goes and who stays. So - Joe the blogger - were you up at the end of the game? Thanks for the early post!

  2. masnstinks - I agree about looking for progress at this point. Another disappointing W-L record is likely on the horizon. And I gave up in the 11th inning. The 4 hours of sleep that I got is the lowest I can go on a work night. Stupid west coast trips...