Looking back and looking ahead

If you were among the group which felt that the Nationals should trade for a starting pitcher to fill out their rotation once Stephen Strasburg is shut down, did last night’s performance by John Lannan do anything to change your mind?

Lannan delivered a statement outing against the Braves, reminding Nats fans, and possibly GM Mike Rizzo, that despite the lefty’s somewhat inflated numbers at Triple-A Syracuse this season, he’s still a major league pitcher.

This is a guy who was the Nationals’ opening day starter in 2009 and 2010. He won’t strike out 200 in a season. He won’t be a Cy Young Award candidate. But he will eat innings, keep his team in ballgames and give the Nats a proven starter who they can promote from within instead of shipping away more prospects for a rent-a-pitcher.

Beyond what Lannan’s outing meant for the Nationals both in terms of him putting a stop to a three-game losing streak and possibly proving his ability to contribute in September, you have to appreciate what this outing meant for him personally.

Lannan has played for some horrible Nats teams and pitched in front of some minuscule crowds. Last night, he took the mound in a fairly important July contest against a division contender, and pitched the Nationals to a win in front of 40,000-plus.

Quite a special moment for the 27-year-old, who has gone through quite an emotional roller coaster this season.

desmond running bases home sidebar.jpgDavey Johnson said after last night’s game that Ian Desmond is “iffy” for today’s series finale against the Braves, and later added that his shortstop will probably get the day off after playing 16 innings yesterday.

Desmond’s sore oblique acted up a bit in the second game, causing Johnson to remove him as part of a double-switch in the eighth inning.

Bryce Harper should be good to go today, however, after being held out of the starting lineup in yesterday’s nightcap due to a bruised left ankle. Harper pinch hit in the ninth, stole a base and came around from second to score a big insurance run, then told reporters after the game that the ankle feels fine once he gets it loosened up.

We’ll get Ross Detwiler (4-3, 3.15 ERA) against Jair Jurrjens (3-3, 6.20) this afternoon in the series finale between the Nats and Braves.

A Nationals win today would give them a split in the four-game set.

Given where the Nats were at a little over 12 hours ago, with their NL East lead down to 1 1/2 games and it looking like they could drop three straight to Atlanta, a split would feel pretty darn good.

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