John Lannan Departure No Surprise

By Timothy Holland

After spending eight years with the Washington Nationals organization, the departure of pitcher John Lannan comes as no surprise. Lannan signed a one year contract for $2.5 million with the NL East rival Philadelphia Phillies. It is a good move for him as his career had run its course in Washington.

Lannan came to the Nationals as an eleventh round pick in 2005. Washington thought they had signed a young left hander with good control and the potential to be a starter. Lannan worked his way up to the big club in 2007. Of course, this may not have been as hard with the Nationals as their pitching staff was paper thin. Not one starting pitcher from Washington’s 2007 staff is still with the team.

By 2008, Lannan was part of the starting rotation and remained there until last season. He was the team’s opening day starter in 2009 and 2010. In four full seasons in the Major Leagues, Lannan posted a record of 36-49 pitching for really bad teams. His biggest problem was that he never seemed confident in his abilities.

When the Nationals finally put it together in 2012, Lannan lost his spot in the rotation to another lefty, Ross Detwiler. Lannan spent the year at Triple A Syracuse and, though disappointed, did not complain openly. However, it was obvious that the organization no longer felt he was part of their future.

Lannan had to make a decision as to whether he wanted to remain in Washington and fight for a spot at the back end of the rotation or start fresh somewhere else. With the Nationals much deeper in pitching than they were in 2007, the best choice for him was to leave. Lannan was not going to beat out Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg or Jordan Zimmerman. He had already lost out to Detwiler. Washington had just signed free agent Dan Haren from the Los Angeles Angels after not resigning Edwin Jackson. The writing was on the wall.

It is interesting that Lannan signed with Philadelphia. He may have done it in order to pitch against the Nationals. If Lannan earns a spot in the Phillies rotation, he could face Washington two or three times next season. He may have done it, because of his familiarity with the NL and the Eastern division. He may have done it simply to get an opportunity to pitch in the big leagues again and prove his worth.

It is, also, interesting how Lannan became expendable to the Nationals. When bad teams become good there is always a huge turnover in talent. Washington is not the same team or organization that they were when Lannan first joined them. They are better across the board on offense and defense. The pitching staff has been completely revamped and one of the casualties was Lannan.

Though he was a consummate pro and gave the Nationals everything he had, Lannan did the right thing for himself by signing with Philadelphia.

His days in Washington were over.

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