Lannan’s Late Surge and Seat Counting

Last night, John Lannan went 5 2/3 innings and gave up 4 ER. For a Nationals pitcher in 2010, that wasn’t half bad. Of course, we know it’s not a very good start, but are you ready for some good news? That was his second worst start since coming back from the minors. BP gave him a game score of 41, only better than his 8/24 start against the Cubs where he gave up 4 ER in 5 IP. Since he’s returned from exile, he has been quite good. Including last night’s unimpressive outing, he’s gone 68 1/3 IP, with a mind-blowing (for Lannan) 47 Ks to 14 BBs and a 3.42 ERA. And most importantly, the team has gone 7-4 in those starts.

His K/9 of 6.2 is the best 11 game stretch since the last 11 games of 2008. Back when he was the de facto #1. He didn’t do anything like that even in his great 2009, where he finished the year with a career best 3.88 ERA. But more impressive than seeing him strike some guys out, is seeing out few he has walked. Simply put, his K/BB of 3.35 in this span is his best 11 game stretch ever. With someone like Lannan, who induces ground balls and doesn’t strike out as many guys as other pitchers do, he must keep his walks down. When he does, he can be very successful. If he doesn’t, it’s easy for a few grounders to leak through with a couple of walks and suddenly it’s a 2 or 3 run inning. But when that ratio is 3.35, what happens is teams need 3 or 4 hits in an inning, without hitting into a double play, to get more than 1 run on the board, and that is difficult to do.

Empty Seats Here and Down South

If you felt guilty as a Nats fan about the lack of attendance in last week’s Astros series (a franchise low of 10,999 attended the Monday nighter) at least you’re not a Rays fan. An only slightly bigger crows of 12,446 attended the Rays-O’s game last night, which is  more cringe inducing considering the Rays had the best record in baseball going in to the game, and that the game was actually a significant one. They could have clinched a playoff spot assuming they won, which they didn’t, so tomorrow maybe some of the fans will drag themselves down to the stadium.

Meanwhile, the Nats have their same old problem – the only 14,309 attended the game last night, apparently 14,308 of them were Phillies fans. The team has two more games at home this year – today and tomorrow. The Phillies have nothing left to play for other than home field, so there may not be AS many Phillie fans there. Maybe a few Nats fans will show up and cheer a team that has had a rough season but has kept playing hard and has had some really fun to watch players and moments this year laced into the disappointment.

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