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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Well done John Lannan. But.

Congrats to John Lannan for pitching a fine game and snapping the Nats' latest losing streak. For you, sir, I stayed away since my luck has run dry. The Nats don't win when I'm in the house anymore. I sat out that rain delay on Thursday and even Livo couldn't cope with me there.

I don't think any of us have ever questioned whether Lannan has the "stuff" to win at the major-league level. He clearly does. When he's on, he's rather good.

But here's what I want to see out of Lannan, and most of the Nats pitchers not named Jee-SUS or Livo, actually: Win when your stuff ain't there. Because of a lot of times for every pitcher, it ain't there. And almost every time, that spells disaster for the Nats.

I'm sure I've expounded on my five-five theory here before. Don't worry. I'll do it again.

I have a theory that any pitcher good enough to start a full season in the bigs has five great games in them. Games where everything is working. They'll win four of them. The other? Bad luck, the opponent is also having a night, that kind of thing. Jee-SUS' debut is a fine example. On as on can be but it could have been a loss because one pitch was hit out and the Nats were down for a while.

They'll also have five games where the stuff stinks for whatever reason. They'll lose four of them. They'll get lucky once or the other guy will be worse. Jee-SUS had one of his five last time out.

What makes a decent pitcher good or a good pitcher great is what he does the other 25 or so starts when he's neither lights out nor horrific. How do you find a way to win when you are down a cylinder (as my racing friends like to say)? Those who figure it out are prized pitchers.

I saw Livo throw 42 pitches against the Braves in the first inning earlier this year. He got some bad breaks (at least one misplayed ball that I remember) and some good breaks (at least one great catch that I remember) but the key is Braves were on the bases all inning and only one scored. Livo worked his way through some crap and the Nats went on to win.

As much as I loved Jee-SUS' debut, I fell more in love on July 3 against the Mets. He was slightly off his feed but left down just 2-0. He kept it from getting out of hand and the Nats won.

Lannan, Stammen, Martin, Olsen *** I could go on and on but none of those guys seem to be able to work their way through when it isn't one of the GreatFIve Starts. That 2-0 against the Mets would have been 6-0.

So, yeah, I'm glad John Lannan seems to be back to being on more than off. I hope he's able to wedge his way into that rotation of greatness we've been told repeatedly is on the way. Maybe he found some magic elixer and he'll be "on" every time out.

We all know that isn't the case. So get back to me when Lannan (and the rest, he's far from alone in this) figure out how to win when the A game is back in the clubhouse.

1 comment:

Nate said...

Nothing wrong with the theory, Mike. Lannan just isn't that type of pitcher. Even when he's on he succeeding by hitting the corners, inducing grounders, and limiting the walks. That's his "stuff". If it isn't there on any given night then he's leaving sliders and 90 MPH fastballs over the plate. He can't fall back on guile and guts, because that's all he has to begin with. Still, for the 4th or 5th starter on a good team, that should be enough.