Nationals left-hander John Lannan gets the call tonight in Game 2 against the Pirates.
I caught up with Lannan as he prepared his game plan for Pittsburgh and asked him how he prepares for each game.
"I like to go out there and know what I am going to do beforehand. That is why I like to do scouting reports. I like to use the catcher and the pitching coach's help, but I like to be prepared myself so I don't have to rely on them too much.
"This gives me more confidence as well. I just go out there and know what works. If you don't like what the catcher puts down, change it."
This is interesting too, because pitching coach Steve McCatty told me after Stephen Strasburg's start last night that they just told the youngster to go out and pitch and not worry about a game plan or scouting report. They didn't want to overwhelm Strasburg that first game. Just like in football, they didn't put the whole playbook in the first start.
Lannan is a veteran and loves to concentrate on the scouting report from the outset. McCatty says they will bring Strasburg along slowly on scouting reports. With the stuff he showed last night, he might not need to game plan just yet if they can't keep up with his stuff.
I asked Lannan how important those final warm up pitches are to what he wants to do. Is he working at 100 percent or throwing the first few pitches he will try to that initial hitter?
"That is the time when all the anxiety and healthy nervousness (goes away) and I bring it all in. Those pitches are for you to get a feel for the mound. This gets me to calm down. I am not going 100 percent. I am making sure I am ready for that first batter."
Then for perspective, I asked Lannan what it felt like to draft Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper in consecutive years, maybe the best two seasons to have the worst record in the majors?
"That is what this team needs. Baseball hasn't been around in D.C. that long. Young players who want to come in here and win - Bryce seems like the type of kid who is a bulldog on the field and really wants to win and so is Strasburg. Once you get a team like that and surround them with older veteran players who have been there, it is a recipe for wins and hopefully a championship season."
So how did your last start feel against the Astros?
"I felt okay. It was a little hot in Houston. I felt pretty good, but not as good as in San Diego. Every start I build on stuff. With the rest I think I will be ready today."
What are you building on for tonight?
"My sinker wasn't feeling that hot in Houston. My changeup has been feeling good and my curveball has been coming along. I just got to trust that if my sinker is not there I have other pitches that can get me out of innings."
On a side note, see you in Woodbridge tonight, I am going to check out Ross Detwiler's rehab start from a hip injury and talk with him afterwards. Stay tuned for updates all night long on twitter @bkerr32 and @masnsports.