Throughout the offseason, The Nats Blog will look back at every player’s 2012 season to summarize and analyze his performance, and we’ll look ahead to his possible role in 2013. We’ll go from #1 Steve Lombardozzi all the way to #63 Henry Rodriguez until Spring Training. Enjoy.
John Lannan had the least glamorous job of his 2012 teammates, but he can easily be considered an unsung hero of the Washington Nationals’ storied season.
The six-year veteran, who was once the Opening Day starter for the Nationals, began last season in the minor leagues because there was simply no room for him in the starting rotation after the acquisitions of Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson during the 2011 offseason. Although Lannan asked to be traded when he learned of his demotion, Mike Rizzo did not release the reliable lefty because he knew the team would need a trustworthy starting pitcher to fill in for Stephen Strasburg after he was shut down.
Lannan struggled in the minors a bit at first, and finished his time at Triple-A Syracuse with a 4.30 ERA through 148.2 innings with 86 strikeouts and a 9-11 win-loss record. But when he was called upon to start for the major league club, he gave the Nationals exactly what they asked of him.
Of the six games he started with the 2012 Nationals, he earned four wins, one loss and a no-decision. He pitched 32 total innings with a 4.13 ERA, 17 strikeouts and a 1.44 WHIP. Although those aren’t sensational numbers and Fan Graphs awarded him a WAR value of just 0.5, his contribution to the team late in the season when their ace was shut down and their pitching staff was tired goes beyond what statistics can show.
However, those mediocre numbers weren’t going to earn him a spot on the 2013 roster among pitchers in the Cy Young conversation. He was non-tendered this offseason, and for the first time since being drafted by them in 2005, Lannan will play for a team that isn’t the Nationals.
Next Year: After becoming a free agent, Lannan signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. He is slated to be the fifth starter for the Phillies, but it will be interesting to see how he is received by the Nationals’ rivals. Phillies fans have a history of disliking Lannan for breaking Chase Utley’s hand, which knocked their star out of commission during what was without a doubt the best offensive season of his career and had the potential to be a record breaking one.
Up Next: #32 Tom Gorzelanny