May 3, 2010, 2:19 PM EST
Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
This has been perhaps the roughest stretch of John Lannan's career.
There is much angst this morning in NatsTown over the de facto ace of the pitching staff, who has pitched nothing like an ace so far this season.
John Lannan may not have ace stuff, but he entered the season as the Nationals' best starter, and his track record over the last 2 1/2 years suggested he'd established himself as a solid big-league pitcher.
The left-hander's numbers through six outings — 1-2, 6.34 ERA, a staggering 1.93 WHIP — suggest he's anything but solid. And yesterday's ragged outing in Miami, in which he was roughed up for six runs on nine hits in five innings, suggests this may be more than a blip on the radar screen.
So what's going on here? Is Lannan merely going through a rough patch, or is he finally regressing into the sub-par major leaguer many stathounds have been saying he would become?
For those unaware with the sabermetrics argument against Lannan, it basically boils down to this: He's the least-effective pitcher in baseball at making hitters swing and miss. Batters make more contact against him than any other pitcher in the game. For the last 2 1/2 years, Lannan has merely been lucky that all those balls put into play have been hit right at fielders, especially groundballs. Eventually, the law of averages was going to start turning those outs into base hits.
Indeed, it is really tough to be a successful pitcher when only 24 of the 561 pitches you've thrown this season have been swinging strikes. So that may in part explain Lannan's struggles.
Here, though, is another explanation: Lannan has had no command of his pitches whatsoever.
I just re-watched the first three innings of yesterday's game, paying particular attention to catcher Wil Nieves' positioning as Lannan begins his windup. I'd say Lannan missed the target at least 80Read more »
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