Nationals Baseball: Lannan on the edge

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lannan on the edge

Hey Lannan! Stop walking people! Start striking out people!

Lannan's success, as we've gone over before, is based pretty much on the fact that he gets enough groundballs and limits the XBHs of righties enough that all those baserunners he lets on just melt away (except for the 2-4 that score). It's not a recipe for domination. It's a recipe for moderate success. Up until now it didn't matter that he didn't strike anyone out and it didn't matter that he walked too many. He hadn't yet found the limit of how many men he could let on base and how many balls the other team could put in play have it mess with his success.

Consider it found.

In 2008 things worked for Lannan even though he walked too many because his K numbers weren't terrible. (5.79 K/9, 3.56 BB/9)

In 2009 things worked for Lannan even though he struck out fewer batters because he was able to drop his walks as well. (3.88 K/9, 2.97 BB/9)

In 2010 things aren't working because he's striking out even fewer guys and he's walking more batters than he has in his career (2.92 K/9, 4.44 BB/9)

He's also giving up fewer groundballs (from 54.2% in '08 to 51.9% in '09 to 49.6% this year)
And he's getting hit harder (LD% up to 20.7%)
And he's getting unlucky a bit (BABIP of .327 compared to lifetime average around .275)

The only thing saving John from complete failure is the fact he's still doing well not giving up homers. (only 8.8% of his fly balls, only 0.89 HR/9)

Some may come look at Lannan now and say "See! Told ya the way he was going couldn't keep working!" but right now that's not an accurate depiction of what's happening. He is not failing doing the same thing he was doing before. He's failing while pitching worse than ever. The discussion over whether Lannan could continue to find success doing what he was doing may have to go unanswered unless he picks up his game.


Mythical Monkey said...

It seems like a Lannan type of pitcher -- pitch to contact -- lives and dies on his ability to throw the ball to spots, so that when hitters do make contact, they pull the ball weakly to a middle infielder. Off by a fraction and he either gets lit up or walks somebody.

The high walk totals seem to suggest Lannan is missing his spot far too often. Maybe the left elbow that caused him to miss some starts earlier in the season is bothering him more than he's letting on.

Or maybe all finesse pitchers go through streaks like this. An interesting question.

Mythical Monkey said...

Actually, I've been reading all day that his sinker's not sinking -- pretty much his bread-and-butter pitch ...

Harper said...

That would explain the lack of ground balls and the getting hit harder, maybe even the strikeouts, but not the walks - at least not directly.

Id go with the left elbow issue honestly. It seemed like after a rest and some work on it he was back to his old self for a good month. BB rate was around 3 per 9, and XBH were down (6 in about 30 innings) so even though K's were low he was his bafflingly effective self. Last two games though - 4 XBH, 7 walks in 9 innings.

Wombat-socho said...

Linked at Beltway Baseball.

Anonymous said...

Lannan has been very overated. He is just slightly above mediocre