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Game Thread: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves- 2008 Game 98 of 162. "John 'Cool Hand' Lannan Visits The ATL..."

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On The Hill...

John "Cool Hand" Lannan is (5-9) with a 3.40 ERA in 18 starts this season, two of which have come against Atlanta, against whom Lannan's (1-1) with 14 hits, 6 ER's, 1 HR and 7 walks allowed over 11.0 innings pitched, collecting 6 K's and posting a 4.91 ERA against the Braves. In Lannan's last start against Atlanta, which took place in Turner Field, the 23-year old lefty pitched 7.0 innings of shutout ball, giving up just 4 hits and 4 walks in a 6-0 Nationals' win.

Lannan snapped a five-game losing streak with a win over the D-Backs in his last start, throwing a two-hit shutout over 6.0 innings in a 5-0 DC victory, but before that "Cool Hand" was (0-5) in 8 starts stretching back to his last win on May 18th against the Orioles, with the Nationals (0-8) in games Lannan started over the same stretch.

Atlanta looks for their second straight, and a tie to the season series between themselves and DC which stands at 5-4 Washington after the Braves' win last night. Atlanta turns to their second-year right-hander out of Willemstad, Curacao, Jair "JJ" Jurrjens, who, along with last night's starter Tim Hudson, has worked to keep Atlanta alive in the mediocre (at best) NL East.

Jurrjens, 22, with a (9-4) record and 3.00 ERA in 25 starts and 141.2 innings pitched this season, received no decision when he faced Washington for the first time in his career back on April 30th in DC. Jurrjens threw 7.0 innings against the Nationals in that start, giving up just 2 hits and 1 run with 0 walks and 3 K's, for a 1.29 ERA, 0.29 WHIP and .087 BAA. At home at the "Ted", JJ's (5-1) in 9 starts, posting a 2.83 ERA and 1.43 WHIP over 54 innings, (as opposed to Jurrjens (4-3) record, and 3.16 ERA in 9 starts on the road, though he's won three-straight away from Atlanta.) In his last 10 starts...Jair Jurrjens is (5-1) with the Braves (8-2) in JJ's starts since May 16th.

Nationals' #'s Against Jair Jurrjens...

Cristian Guzman - 0 for 3, .000 AVG.

Felipe Lopez - 1 for 3, .333 AVG, 1 RBI.

Austin Kearns - 0 for 3, .000 AVG.

Braves' #'s Against "Cool Hand" Lannan...

Brian McCann - 2 for 6, .333 AVG, 1 2B, 2 K's.

Yunel Escobar - 2 for 7, .286 AVG.

Kelly Johnson - 2 for 7, .286 AVG, 1 2B.

Chipper Jones - 1 for 4, .250 AVG.

Mark Teixeira - 1 for 5, .200 AVG, 1 RBI.

Jeff Francouer - 3 for 4, .750 AVG, 1 HR, 5 RBI's.

Matt Die-Az (Currently on DL) - 3 for 5, .600 AVG.

From Harrisburg With Love...

Washington Post writer Chico Harlan is waxing poetic in his article entitled, "Nats See Pitching Growth on Farm", in which Mr. Harlan reports on the progress of the Nationals' other Zimmerman, right-handed pitching prospect Jordan Zimmermann, whose last outing is described in detail by Mr. Harlan, who relates what the pro scouts were seeing from the young pitcher:

"They noticed how Zimmermann's fastball hit 94 mph, and how it brushed the plate's edges. They noticed how his wind-up depends on a driving lower-body push, mechanics that make Harrisburg Manager John Stearns think of Hall of Famer Tom Seaver. They noticed how he cleaned up a first-and-third, no-out mess with a popup and a double play. When scouts see something that cannot be measured, they become most convinced of talent."

Mr. Harlan then quotes Washington's Scouting Director Dana Brown, who witnessed Zimmermann's last start and quickly sums up what the scouts are looking for and where the young 22-year old pitcher stands within the organization:

"'When you need to get somebody out, can you do it?' said Washington scouting director Dana Brown, who watched the game from behind home plate. 'You see that, like with Zimmermann, you see somebody very close to being major league ready, if not right there scratching at the surface.'"

In 13 starts with the Nationals' AA-affiliate in Harrisburg, Jordan Zimmermann's (4-2) with a 3.45 ERA in 13 starts and 73.0 innings, over which he's allowed 59 hits, 28 runs, 8 HR's and 38 walks while striking out 92. Add Zimmermann to the list for a possible September call-up...

Rumor Mill...

A lot of blogs and columns around the internets are reporting on the widespread interest in the Tallest Pitcher in MLB History, Jon Rauch, with the rumor-mongering website, mlbtraderumors.com, in particular, summing up a recent report from Fox Sports' writer Ken Rosenthal, in a post by Tim Dierkes entitled, "Rosenthal's Latest: Holliday, Burnett, Rauch and Ibanez", with Mr. Dierkes identifying potential destinations for Rauch, writing, "Jon Rauch is a hot commodity, drawing interest from the Rays, Red Sox, and Diamondbacks."

...and a FANPOST here at federalbaseball.com yesterday by wrigley's ivy entitled, "Who becomes closer if Rauch moved??", pointed to a yahoosports.com article, by three writers, Brad Funston, Andy Behrens, and Brad Evans, entitled, "High Fives: Second Look", where both Mr. Behrens and Evans include Jon Rauch's name on their lists of the, "Top five players you expect to see moved at the deadline," with Mr. Behrens ranking Rauch 2nd and writing:

"2. Jon Rauch - Looking back, perhaps Washington regrets that they didn't deal Chad Cordero."

...and Mr. Evans ranking Rauch 5th on his list, and noting (somewhat cryptically):

"5. The Washington Monument supposedly has 10 potential suitors - so long save opportunities."

So let's enjoy our time with Rauch in case he's moved before the end of the month. Tonight's game starts at 7:10 pm EST in Hotlanta. Jurrjens vs Lannan. Nationals vs Braves. Good vs Evil. Atlanta vs DC. Who's watching the Nationals?