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10/15/07 The 2008 Nationals Starting Rotation: John Lannan?

     Home Plate Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt was wrong. Washington lefty John Lannan was in the middle of his MLB debut on the mound on July 26th, starting against Philadelphia, and Lannan had just hit both Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in succession in the fifth inning of a game the Phillies were leading 3-2 at the time. Utley and Howard had singled and homered, respectively, in their last at bats, but it was fairly obvious that Lannan was just wild inside.

     Hunter Wendelstedt didn't agree, and John Lannan was tossed out of his MLB debut, quickly followed by the Nationals Manager Manny Acta, who vociferously objected to the overreaction of the Umpire.

     The Nationals came back to win the afternoon tilt with Philadelphia 7-6 after scoring three runs in the eigth inning on a three-run blast by rookie catcher Jesus Flores. Lannan surrendered 6 hits, 4 earned runs, 1 homer and 1 walk in his first start, going 4.1 innings and being spared the loss by Flores' late game heroics.

     Lannan would gain his first Major League win in his next start, going 5.2 innings against Cincinnati, giving up 5 hits and 2 runs in a 7-2 Washington win, but the next start, just the third of his career, would subject John Lannan to an atmosphere out of Hollywood, but located approximately 348 miles to the north.

     John Lannan started on the road in San Francisco, against the Giants and their left fielder, Barry Bonds, who stood just one home run shy of the All-Time Home Run lead heading into the three game series with the Nationals.

     Lannan held Bonds out of the record books, retiring the lefty in three at bats, including a swinging K in the seventh with two outs, a man on and the game tied at 1-1 at the time. Lannan lasted 7.0 innings that evening, giving up 7 hits, and just 1 run, with 5 walks and 2 K's in a game the Nationals lost in extra innings, but Lannan avoided tying his name to Bonds' historical achievement, which Mr. Bonds accomplished one night later.

     Lannan made three more starts in 2007, losing two of the three and ending the season with a (2-2) record, a 4.15 ERA, 10 K's and 17 walks in 34.2 innings, before being shut down for the season, and sent down to Triple-AAA Columbus to make room on the roster for Jason Bergmann's return.

     The Nationals selected John Lannan out of Siena College with the 325th pick in the 11th Round of the 2005 MLB Amateur draft. Lannan was the third overall pick in the "Nationals" first draft, after Washington had selected Ryan Zimmerman and Justin Maxwell in the 1st and 4th Rounds, respectively.

     Lannan worked his way through three levels of the Minors in 2007 to debut with DC at just twenty-two years of age. Lannan was (12-3) in 19 starts with a combined 2.30 ERA in 125(rounded for math's sake) innings in the Nationals system, and the rookie pitched 34.2 innings with Washington, so the decision to shut Lannan down hints at the value Washington places in his left arm.

     If Lannan was able to work his way through the ranks of the Nationals organization in just two short years, a start in the Minors next season would seem to be a big step backwards, so i'd expect the lefty to make the roster next season, as one of three possible lefties the Nationals may be able to throw in '08.

     Can a rotation of Shawn Hill, Jason Bergmann, Matt Chico, John Lannan and Tim Redding compete in the NL East?