September call-ups can help Nationals win games now

Manager Davey Johnson announced today that left-hander John Lannan, catcher Sandy Leon and outfielder Eury Perez will join the team tomorrow.

Lannan won two games for the Nationals this season, and has recently come on strong at Triple-A Syracuse. He had not surrendered a run in his last two outings, scattering 11 hits in 18 innings, both victories.

“It’s great,” manager Davey Johnson said of Lannan. “He’s had a great attitude down there and come up and really been excited about coming up and helping us win. He’s done that twice and thrown great games.

“I think his arm and his head and everything is in the right spot. There was never going to be any doubt of who was going to be the guy that came in to replace (Stephen Strasburg), so there have been all kinds of other guys available, but that’s how high we are on John.”

Johnson also said that it shows character the way Lannan has been as a professional all season in Syracuse. Johnson remembers how hard it was to tell the veteran in spring that he did not make the 25-man roster at the conclusion of spring training.

“I know, shoot, it was more difficult for me to tell him,” Johnson said. “We just had some little acquisitions over the winter, just some guys we felt like were a little bit better at that point. I mean, he was our biggest winner last year.

“I enjoyed watching him pitch. He pitched some gems. But I think there were some things he could get better at - his command, his off-speed pitches. I think that’s what he worked on. Obviously, nothing but good reports on him. So, just at the right time.”

Johnson believes Lannan will be available Sept. 3, and expects to use him as a reliever initially.

“Might find a spot out of the ‘pen,” Johnson said. “I know he likes to throw long, so maybe we can work it out with their bullpen, he can throw to their bullpen, they can throw back or something like that.”

Johnson also said that once the Triple-A Chiefs end their season Sept. 3, outfielder Corey Brown and a “power arm” will join the Nationals. That arm is likely right-handed reliever Christian Garcia.

General manager Mike Rizzo said Perez has made outstanding progress with his midseason promotion to Syracuse.

Perez has been very patient at the plate, batting .333, and has a high on-base percentage (.373), with 51 stolen bases this season.

“Eury is an impressive guy,” said Rizzo. “He really came on the radar screen two winters ago when he was Rookie of the Year in the Dominica Winter League. He hasn’t taken a step backwards. He is moving forward. He is developing at a great pace.

“The player development system has really done a great job with him. He has got some exciting skills and a right-handed bat that we view as someone that can really help us in the future.”

Garcia allowed just one earned run over almost three months of the season at Syracuse. Garcia is 2-1 with a 0.89 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 43 appearances this season.

Rizzo said the call-ups are players that will make a difference as the Nationals continue their quest for the National League East title.

“We are not in the situation where we are going bring up guys to take a look at players like we did in the past,” Rizzo said. “The players that we bring up are going to be players that can help us in real games for a playoff stretch.”

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