MIAMI — Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson was thrilled to hear that left-hander John Lannan had earned Triple-A Pitcher of the Week honors and seemed excited to welcome the sinkerballer back to the major league team shortly after rosters expand on Sept. 1.
When he gets here, the Nationals expect to line him up on the same schedule as right-hander Stephen Strasburg in preparation of sliding Lannan into Strasburg’s spot in the rotation once the Nationals’ ace is shut down for the season.
“I think it’s going to pretty much coincide fairly close with when Stephen’s shut down,” Johnson said. “I think the timing is that he’s lined up almost the same day.”
Lannan last pitched on Saturday, Aug. 25, throwing a complete game shutout over the Atlanta Braves’ Triple-A affiliate. He was scheduled to pitch again on Aug. 30 on regular rest but Johnson said Tuesday he might pitch in the Syracuse Chiefs’ season finale on Sept. 3, which would be only three days of rest after a potential Aug. 30 start.
At any rate, the Nationals are attempting to line things up so that Lannan is on some sort of timetable to take over for Strasburg.
Strasburg is expected to miss two or three regular-season starts meaning Sept. 12 or 19 could be his final start of the year. If Lannan has to throw an extra side session or simulated game to stay sharp, that’s most likely what the Nationals will do to keep him on turn. It’s not likely Lannan will be used out of the bullpen.
“He pitched two great ballgames for us up here and nice to see he’s throwing well,” Johnson said. “He’s used the time (in the minor leagues) to work on some things. I’m sure he’s in a good frame of mind and it couldn’t come at a better time.”
Lannan will not join the Nationals immediately, but there are a few players who will.
Veteran utility man Mark DeRosa, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 6 with an abdominal strain, has been feeling strong and healthy lately. He will be activated on Saturday and the Nationals plan to add a third catcher at that point, as well as someone who can pinch run.
The catcher will be either Jhonatan Solano (who has been rehabbing his left oblique strain with Double-A Harrisburg) or Sandy Leon, who was optioned to Triple-A when the Nationals acquired Kurt Suzuki. The pinch runner could be outfielder Corey Brown or, perhaps, Eury Perez, one of the Nationals’ top outfield prospects.
The Nationals will likely add a few more players (including Lannan, of course), but it appears only those three will be joining them immediately after rosters expand.
It was interesting to note that, when asked specifically about players on the disabled list, Johnson mentioned only DeRosa as one who would be activated. Right-handed reliever Henry Rodriguez has been on the DL since Aug. 2 with lower back soreness and right-hander Chien-Ming Wang has been there since July 3 with a right hip strain.
“Those are really the only three critical ones when we expand rosters,” Johnson said, referring to DeRosa, a catcher and a pinch runner. “Those three for sure right away.”