What’s wrong with John Lannan?

John Lannan had one of the worst outings of his young career last night as the left-hander allowed seven earned runs in only 1.2 innings Saturday night in a 11-9 loss against the Brewers.

Unfortunately, and surprisingly, this awful outing has only been an exclamation point at the end of a slope of downward progress for Lannan that has seen him winless in his last four starts.

That leads to the inevitable question, what’s wrong with John Lannan?

Going into the All-Star break many considered Lannan a rising star in the National League. In only his second full season in the big leagues the lefty had a 3.70 first half ERA in 18 starts for the club, and that’s after coming off an awful April that saw him give up 14 earned runs in 27 innings.

In the month of May John Lannan had an ERA of .389, and in June of 2.19. Many began to consider Lannan an overlooked bright spot in a dark season for the Washington Nationals.

However in Lannan’s eight starts since All-Star break he has allowed opponents to bat .293 against him. His second half ERA has spiked to 4.81 and he has walked almost as many batters as he has struck out. The month of August alone has been even worse, as the lefty has allowed batters to hit a whopping .364 against him and has had a 9.00 ERA.

So what has changed?

In the first half of the season Lannan allowed 39 walks in 112 innings, which comes out to one walk every 2.9 innings pitched. In the second half he has allowed 14 walks in 48.2 innings pitched, which comes out to one walk every 3.4 innings. So actually his walk rate has gone down, which is a good thing.

His home run rate has stayed steady as well. In the first half he allowed a homer every 9.3 innings pitched, and in the second half he has allowed one only 9.64 innings pitched. Even Lannan’s hit rate has only risen slightly as the first half saw him allow 1.04 hits per inning, where win the second half he has allowed 1.16 hits per inning.

So while statistically it is hard to pinpoint the cause of the problem, visible evidence shows that he is allowing the big inning far more often. What made Lannan such a successful starter in the past was that he was able to pitch out of tough situations. He had that bulldog mentality that gave him that switch to really turn it on in the clutch. It’s what made John Lannan so fun to watch.

It seems like that’s gone away somewhere. Maybe he’s harboring an injury, or maybe he’s tired.

Whatever it is Lannan better find himself good and quick.