The Nationals have some flexibility if they want to prepare their starting rotation for the playoffs. Too soon? Maybe for them to come out and start talking about it openly. There are still 27 games left after Tuesday’s contest against the Cubs, after all.
But manager Davey Johnson has days off on both Sept. 13 and 17 and can insert John Lannan into the rotation any time after Stephen Strasburg makes his final start on Sept. 12 at the New York Mets. Sounds like that will be during the critical series against the Atlanta Braves that next weekend. No surprise there given the Braves’ left-handed heavy batting order.
“So what I’m saying is, with all the days off in there, it doesn’t necessarily have to follow that [Lannan is] going to pitch on Strasburg’s day,” Johnson said. “I’ll do whatever I want to do.”
Johnson has met with Lannan twice in recent days and given him “a rough idea” of how he will be used between now and then. Lannan has spent most of this season pitching in Triple-A save for two spot starts for Washington. There were some struggles during the season at that level, but he finished there with a flourish thanks to back-to-back complete-game shutouts. The last outing was Aug. 30.
But Johnson, knowing it’s been a long season for Lannan, is essentially skipping a start for the 26-year-old, who would have been set to pitch Tuesday. Lannan will probably be available out of the bullpen starting Sept. 9 – his next scheduled start day. That would have him ready for the Braves later in the week.
“I think it [lets Lannan] catch his breath and give him time to adjust and then his kind of tune-up will probably be out of the [bullpen],” Johnson said. “He doesn’t have an aversion to pitching out of the pen. He just didn’t want to pitch out of the pen at the start of the season.”
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