Left-hander John Lannan will miss his next start, after battling through elbow problems that have hampered his control on his breaking pitches and caused the Nationals' No. 1 starter to begin the year with the worst results of his career.
Lannan said he first started feeling discomfort in his elbow after his start against the Rockies on April 21. He had an MRI on his elbow and it showed no damage other than a little bit of swelling. He had a cortisone shot in the back of his elbow, but general manager Mike Rizzo said the Nationals are not planning any DL time for Lannan; in fact, they expect him to be back after one start and several bullpen sessions.
"They saw some swelling around the flexor tendon," Lannan said. "What it was, I just had discomfort every time I throw my two-seam (fastball) and my changeup, which are the pitches I really rely on the most. I wasn't getting the finish I needed."
Lannan felt more warning signs after his last start, when his pitches didn't have the late life they normally do, and the Nationals made their decision from there.
"When I get in a little trouble, it affects me," Lannan said. "I don't have everything I've got. I can't put everything I've got into it. Usually, I get out of those situations and I just battle. But it's kind of tough to battle with what I was going through. I don't think it was a mistake (to pitch). It's tough to shut yourself down. But after Florida, I looked back on it, saw video, and it just didn't look right. It didn't feel right, so I just had to let them know."
Rizzo said the Nationals have not decided who will make Lannan's scheduled Saturday start; Collin Balester is lined up to pitch at Triple-A Syracuse, but Washington could also use reliever Miguel Batista that day against the Marlins.
Lannan has a 1-2 record with a 6.34 ERA this season, and allowed six runs in five innings in a loss to the Marlins on Sunday. There's nothing in the plan that would call for surgery, so if rest doesn't work right away, Lannan said he would just rest longer.