Lannan locked in as the fifth starter
VIERA, FLA. | This has been a different spring for John Lannan. Twice a starter on Opening Day for this team on a less-stocked pitching staff, Lannan has spent much of the past two months seeing his name in trade rumors while the top four starters in the Washington Nationals’ rotation are fawned over.
But manager Davey Johnson confirmed Monday what was assumed since Chien-ming Wang tumbled over first base 11 days ago and strained his left hamstring: Lannan is his No. 5 starter.
“John’s my guy,” Johnson said before Lannan twirled five effective innings, allowing two runs off two hits and a walk with five strikeouts in a 7-4 victory over the Houston Astros.
From the moment the Nationals added right-hander Edwin Jackson in February, how they were going to piece together the back end of their rotation with Wang, Lannan and Ross Detwiler was one of their most prevalent storylines. Wang appeared on track to seize that fifth spot, drawing raves for his performance and his strength before the injury, but the timetable for his return is unknown.
Lannan, coming off a 10-13 season with a 3.70 ERA, was the next logical candidate. General manager Mike Rizzo has maintained that he is not shopping Lannan and doesn’t view the Nationals’ plethora of pitchers as a surplus. That message, though, never had to be conveyed to Lannan.
“[Davey] doesn’t have to worry about me,” Lannan said, shrugging off the suggestion that Johnson’s confirmation cleared up his murky situation, saying only, “It is what it is.
“I want him to know that he doesn’t have to come in here and tap me on the back and say ‘Hey, it’s going to be OK,’ “Lannan added. “I just don’t need that from him. . . . With experience, you get more comfortable, but you’ve just got to stay humble.”
That decision puts Detwiler in the bullpen, where he worked five times last year, allowing two earned runs in 10 innings. A power left-hander many saw as a lock for the 2012 rotation before the acquisitions, Detwiler is out of options so he’ll make the full-time transition to a long reliever until he’s need in the rotation.
“I’m a big routine person,” Detwiler said. “That’s what’s kind of throwing me off right now. I’m not on the same routine I’ve been on. . . . I have to come up with a routine that gets me ready every fourth day now or that gets me ready whenever they call down there and say my name.”
John Lannan went into spring training in three-way battle with Chien-ming Wang and Ross Detwiler for the No. 5 sport in the Nationals’ rotation.