Chien-Mien Wang looked to be the answer, but he went on the Jerome Williams Disabled List last week. Williams, long-term Nats fans will recall with a cringe, made six unmemorable starts in 2007.
He walked off the mound one night with an 0-5 record, went on the DL and was never seen ‘round these parts again (yet he did manage to surface with the Angels last year and is somehow a combined 10-5 with them). If we see Wang in a Nats uniform again, it will be a surprise.
The answer is not located elsewhere in the bullpen. Craig Stammen and Tom Gorzelanny are starters relegated to relief work, where they’ve been rather effective - moreso than they were as starters. Don’t mess with that.
The answer is in Syracuse, where John Lannan sits as a $5 million a year insurance policy. Lannan has become the face of the old Nats, a guy who was twice an Opening Day starter without really having Opening Day ability. Yet, he did manage to win 38 games in the majors and post an ERA under four in three of his four full seasons. On mostly bad teams.
He’s not a long-term answer, but the Nats aren’t looking for one of those. They’re looking for someone who can make five or six starts and not embarrass himself in a pennant race. For what an arbitrator decided he was worth, Lannan ought to be able to handle that.
A half-dozen starts from Lannan won’t cost the Nats a playoff spot. If they don’t get there, it won’t be for that reason. Call him an “in-house rental.” He’s a perfectly acceptable answer to an unusual situation.