If it’s not already painfully clear, baseball and fate work in a mysterious ways. On Monday, the second-place Nationals, 3-3 through this nine-game road trip, open a three-game series against the third-place Phillies in Philadelphia. And who is expected to start for the Phillies?
John Lannan, fresh off the disabled list after being out since April 17, no less.
“It will be weird,” Nationals Manager Davey Johnson said this weekend. “He did a good job coming back and won some big games for us last year. Now he’s going to be pitching a good game against us. I have to not give him a real nice welcome. Maybe we’ll come out of our funk.”
In some ways, it seems so long ago when Lannan was a regular face in the Nationals rotation from 2008 to 2011 and made 122 starts. Lannan was in the Nationals organization since he was drafted in 2005 until he last season. He started opening day for the Nationals twice, posted a career 4.02 ERA over 783 2/3 innings and endured all those losing season.
And when the Nationals finally won last season, they shipped him to Class AAA Syracuse for the year as insurance, calling upon him to make needed spot starts and take Stephen Strasburg’s place in the rotation once he was shut down. He still earned $5 million, but the decision stung the left-hander and he lost a year of service time. Of the lasting memories of Lannan, his seven innings of two-run ball against Atlanta in the second game of the doubleheader July 21 last season with the Nationals’ clinging to division lead on the Braves, may be one of his finest.
The Nationals parted ways with Lannan, non-tendering him because they chose to dip in the free agent pool for another starter. He signed a one-year, $2.5-million, incentive-laden deal with division-rival Philadelphia, and he’ll pitch in a stadium where he has a career-worst 6.05 ERA in nine starts. He has a 6.14 ERA in three starts for the Phillies and has missed two months with a quad strain near his knee.