The Washington Times - September 4, 2012, 05:35PM

When the Washington Nationals move on past the shutdown of Stephen Strasburg, left-hander John Lannan figures to be the guy to fill in the necessary starts for the rest of the regular season. Lannan is still expected to join the rotation, but he won’t necessarily be just stepping into Strasburg’s turn.

Manager Davey Johnson spoke with Lannan and gave him a “rough idea” when he would get his first post-Strasburg start: “probably” during the Nationals’ series at the Atlanta Braves Sept. 14-16. Strasburg’s final game is expected to be Sept. 12, with that next turn coming up Sept. 19 vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers.


“I told him that I felt like after the long season, and he pitched a heck of a game the last time out, that I wasn’t even going to worry about getting him in a game until his next time to … start,” Johnson said Tuesday. “That’s another five days. It’s like I’m skipping him a start. Today would normally be his day to pitch if he was a regular, but I’m skipping today. It’s like if a guy, I thought, had a little tired arm. I’m just going to skip him and then five more days I’ll think about getting him in a game for relief to keep him sharp.”

Lannan is 9-5 with a 3.20 ERA in his career against the Braves, with that success likely being a contributing factor in his potentially pitching in Atlanta.

But if the 27-year-old starts one of those games, it would mean shuffling things around. Ross Detwiler, Edwin Jackson and Gio Gonzalez are slated to start in that series. But given that the Braves as a team are hitting .246 against lefties, Lannan’s presence could mean three southpaws vs. Atlanta.

“Somebody might get pushed back because there’s a day off in there,” Johnson said.

Lannan starred at Triple-A Syracuse in August, is back in the big leagues after getting sent down after spring training.

“I think it’s to catch his breath and give him time to adjust and then his kind of tune-up will probably be out of the ‘pen,” Johnson said. “He doesn’t have an aversion to pitching out of the ‘pen. He just didn’t want to pitch out of the ‘pen at the start of the season.”

As for what will happen to the Nationals’ rotation after Strasburg is shut down, Johnson wasn’t showing his hand. There are some days off that will affect things, but ultimately it’s his choice how or if starters get moved around.

“I’ll do whatever I want to do,” Johnson said.