Pontificating about pitching

I’ve got a grab bag of updates about various starting pitchers this afternoon, so I’ll post them all here, under that attempt at a clever headline:

John Lannan has changed agents, going from The Show and Andrew Mongelluzzi to Creative Artists Agency and Brodie Van Wagenen. Lannan, who is arbitration-eligible after the season, said he made the change over the winter in preparation for arbitration and free agency.


“It was one of the toughest things I’ve had to do,” Lannan said. “I had a great relationship with my other agent. It was just time to move on. This decision was a gut move, and I’m very happy with it.”

Van Wagenen represents more than a half-dozen Nationals players, including Ryan Zimmerman and Drew Storen, and negotiated Zimmerman’s five-year, $45 million dollar deal last spring. An industry source said the two sides have not talked about a multi-year deal for Lannan, and at this point, it’s unclear if they would go down that road. But there should be some discussions starting soon about Lannan’s future.

“I’m very confident in their relationship with the Nationals, their relationship with me,” Lannan said. “That’s why I went with these guys. All that stuff - arbitration, long-term - I got a guy who will take care of me for all that.”

Lannan threw his first bullpen session of the spring this morning, and pitching coach Steve McCatty came away impressed with how the left-hander looked. He’s working on spotting his fastball and slider down and away against lefties, who hit .290 against him last year.

“It’s the same pitch if a righty batter is in there, but the righty kind of blocks off that part of the plate,” Lannan said. “So it looks like a bigger part of the plate for mistakes. That’s basically what I’ve got to work on, that outside part of the plate, and keeping them honest inside.”

Scott Olsen was also in the bullpen this morning, throwing about 40 pitches and McCatty said the left-hander, who is coming off shoulder surgery, looked comfortable. Olsen struggled to get his velocity up last spring, and the issue lingered into the season until injuries finally shut Olsen down. But he had said last week he was throwing at about 80 percent of his capacity, and McCatty was pleased.

“It’s really hard to tell and judge a guy,” McCatty said. “I think if he says he’s about 80 percent, that’s probably where he’s at. But I’m real happy. It’s an awful big piece if he throws like he’s capable of throwing.”

There hasn’t been much talk about Shairon Martis since he slipped from a 5-0 start last June and the Nationals optioned him to Triple-A Syracuse. The 22-year-old was sent down to work on challenging hitters, but got hit hard early at Syracuse, and after he fixed his problems, he ran out of innings before the Nationals could call him back up in September. But McCatty said the right-hander is being talked about among Nationals coaches for a rotation spot.

“I love the kid. He’s got great stuff,” McCatty said. “His arm dropped a little bit; he started nibbling last year; he started walking some people and got in trouble. He’s got a devastating changeup, and a good fastball. He should be fine. If there hasn’t been a lot of talk, maybe you just haven’t been asking the right questions. Everybody still likes the kid a lot...He’s not out of the picture at all. Inside, we’re always talking about him. He’s not out of the picture at all.”