It's funny how things turn out sometimes.
John Lannan, who had turned into a stalwart of the Nationals' rotation, hit a bump in the road and ended up back in Double-A ball at Harrisburg, where, through 3 starts, he has been hot, cold and lukewarm.
Last night against Richmond he threw 7 innings, allowing 4 earned runs on 9 hits with 4 strikeouts and a walk. It was a step up from his second start, at Portland, where he allowed 6 earned in 6 innings of work, and had some problems keeping the ball down in the strike zone. Lannan's a smart guy, and you have to think he'll figure it out and get back to the big leagues.
Then there's Livan Hernandez. There wasn't much excitement when the Nats signed Hernandez to a minor league deal during spring training. Like most reporters, I assumed he'd be a space-filler until something better came along, and he might not be with the club much past the first couple of months.
Not that he's really re-invented himself, but the results have been there: he's 6-4 with a sub-3.00 ERA. His only truly awful start was against the Tigers in Detroit last month; 12 of his 16 starts have been of the "quality" variety, and it's apparent he's not throwing the ball so hard as to cause much fatigue.
While Livo's mound mastery has risen, his hitting has taken a dive. Usually a pretty good hitting pitcher, he's batting only .120 and has taken some really dreadful hacks at some horrible pitches. He can still lay down a bunt, though, and he gets points for that.
Tonight he'll face a Padres' lineup that's 14th in the league in overall hitting but has scored two more runs than Washington for the season. Hernandez has had decent success against San Diego over the course of his career, though Padres' first baseman Adrian Gonzalez has taken him deep four times.