With the postseason beginning next Friday(!), the Nationals will have to make a decision on their pitching roster for the second season. Starters Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler are set.
But an interesting alteration that might occur is the possible addition of left-hander John Lannan and right-hander Christian Garcia to the postseason roster.
Lannan improved to 4-0 with a 4.23 ERA in the Nationals' 8-4 win over the Phillies on Wednesday night, going 5 1/3 innings and allowing just two runs. That start continues to show that Lannan is ready to take on the heavy lifting the Nationals will need down the stretch and into the postseason, and he has been one of the hottest pitchers for the franchise the last month and a half. Lannan also has a 9-5 record against Atlanta in his career (5-3 at Turner Field), one of the possible opponents for the Nationals in the postseason.
His numbers have been stunning the last 30 days.
Since August 25 and his final two starts for Triple-A Syracuse, the southpaw Lannan has gone 4-0 with a 2.20 ERA, which includes the six earned runs allowed against the Dodgers on September 19. The other four starts in that span, Lannan has given up only two earned runs.
There is also left-hander Tom Gorzelanny, known as the long reliever from the left side, who has been in the bullpen for the entire season.
Coming into September, Gorzelanny was used seven or eight times per month in April, May, June, July and August. But this month, Gorzelanny has been called only five times to pitch, has not pitched in 12 days and has had only one appearance since September 11. The tag of long reliever has not applied to him that much in September either, with only one of those appearances lasting more than one inning.
Manager Davey Johnson has called upon Zach Duke and even right-hander Craig Stammen for long relief, and he also has left-handers Sean Burnett and Michael Gonzalez in the bullpen, However, he has not called Gorzelanny's name recently, even though the lefty has not given up an earned run in 4 2/3 innings in those five appearances this month.
Gorzelanny started 15 of his 30 games in 2011, but has not started a game this year. With his limited use recently, and with the ability of Lannan to start, does Johnson see more versatility in adding Lannan to the postseason roster and not Gorzelanny?
I would expect to see Gorzelanny pitch very soon in a game, but I also suspect that Lannan could have one more appearance to help solidify his spot in the postseason, either from the bullpen, as a starter, or both in a long series.
Also, coming on strong and possessing the stuff to match Craig Kimbrel is the right-hander Garcia. He last pitched against Milwaukee on September 22, allowing a two-run homer, his first earned runs surrendered in the majors since September 9 against the Marlins. Johnson said Garcia did have some right biceps fatigue and was good to go two days later (September 24).
Garcia has three solid pitches and can hit 98 mph velocity, which would be very useful in the playoffs to provide a one-two punch with Drew Storen. But he does not have the experience the other hurlers do. Even so, Garcia is also an intriguing option come October postseason.