Thursday, July 11, 2013

Washington Post Sports Watch: John Lannan, Dan Haren and Asking Questions

Sometimes, it's not about the stories you write, but about the stories you don't write.

Watching the Nationals-Phillies game Monday night, I'm sure I wasn't the only Nats fan who thought the biggest story of the game was John Lannan. I remembered his first game in the majors, a weekday afternoon game in Philly (it was kind of the 2007 version of Strasmas) in which he was tossed from the game for allegedly throwing at Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. I remember how he was the best pitcher for at least a couple years on some terrible Nats teams. I remember last year, when the Nats decided they had five better starting pitchers and sent him down to the minors for most of the year, before he returned later in the year as the fifth starter when Stephen Strasburg was shut down. And now, here he was, for the second time in less than a month, shutting down the Nats and beating the guy who basically replaced him this year, Dan Haren. In June, he pitched five innings, gave up two runs, and was in line for the win until his bullpen blew the lead (although the Phillies came back to win). And on Monday night, he shut out the Nats for eight innings. Meanwhile,  Haren, was taking his 10th loss of the season, but did lower his ERA on the year to a slim 6.00.

Adam Kilgore's game story did mention Lannan's performance in a few sentences, but focused mostly on Haren's troubles, since it was his first game back since a DL stint, which was fine. But with two full-time beat writers covering the Nats this season--as well as Tom Boswell, who writes so many columns about the Nats, he's like a third--I thought somebody would address the elephant in the room. How and why is it that the Nats went out and signed Dan Haren (when he had a lackluster season last year and some were raising questions about whether he was still a quality pitcher), when they had a perfectly adequate fifth starter in John Lannan who they let become a free agent last year and let go without getting anything in return? How does Mike Rizzo feel about that--is he a little embarrassed? How about Davey Johnson? How about the Nats players--are they happy for Lannan? Are they surprised that a pitcher the team let go could dominate them like he did the other night? (Actually, that's a silly question--the Nats shouldn't be surprised at this point of the season by any pitcher dominating them?) Most of all, how about some analysis--sure we're using some hindsight, but is this the biggest blunder of the offseason for the Nats? (Unfortunately, there's some competition for the title.) Nope, we didn't get any of this from any of the Nats beat writers or Boswell (or Mike Wise, who wrote a column on a totally separate pitching issue--maybe I'll get to that tomorrow). All we got was a "Meet Scott Hairston" piece and more on Haren's return.

John Lannan is never going to win a Cy Young. He doesn't strike out many people. And he's not going to be any team's ace unless that team has a pretty poor pitching staff. But since returning from the disabled list last month, he's got a 3.66 ERA in five starts. I can't be the only one who said, "So why did the Nats get rid of him again?" Weren't the baseball writers and editors at the Post asking that question, too? And if not, how could they miss such an obvious story?


Blogger WFY said...

Why write a column like that when there are columns about how nice it is that the "subsidized by the Nats" Baltimore Orioles don't suck column to be written?

7/11/13, 10:06 AM  

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