Nationals Baseball: World War Lannan 2010 : The Aftermath

Friday, October 01, 2010

World War Lannan 2010 : The Aftermath

With Detwiler's start on Wednesday, John Lannan's season ended. (essentially the Nats went to a 6-man rotation and there were only 5 games left). With John's last pitch likely being thrown, it's time to take a look at the season and see what we can see see see.

The question about Lannan had always been, "how can he keep this up". He walked too many and struck out too few to be as successful as he was. At least that's what the stats said. Stats guys threw up their hands and said "luck" and waited for the other shoe to drop... for two whole seasons. Early 2010 though seemed to validate their opinion. Lannan pitched terribly. Problem is Lannan was pitching far worse than ever. The conditions of the experiment had changed so the conclusion could not be reached. Conversely, when Lannan came back and pitched well, he was pitching far better than ever. We may never know how long "2007-2009" Lannan could go on being successful, because that pitcher may be gone forever.

But looking deeper into Lannan's stats we see something even more interesting about post All-Star Lannan.

Here are Lannan's Lefty Right Splits for his career

2007: .273 / .350 /.382
2008: .250 / .331 /.380
2009: .259 / .319 / .392

2007: .273 / .429 / .409
2008: .259 / .317 / .460
2009: .290 / .360 / .513

As we've said before, a big part of Lannan's success had been his amazing ability to keep righties from slugging high. On the other hand a big reason he wasn't more successful was that lefties were able to crush him. This is unusual for a LH starter. Did things change in 2010?

Righty 2010: .307 / .366 / .451
Lefty 2010: .287 / .333 / .413

They did, but it doesn't look much for the better. Lefties still hit Lannan well (though for less power), while now righties can hit him too. These numbers really don't show any good pitching. We'll have to split out those numbers to see why he succeeded after coming back.

Righty 2010 Pre All-Star: .313 / .386 / .449
Righty 2010 Post All-Star: .299 / .357 / .455

Lefty 2010 Pre All-Star: .373 / .415 / .507
Lefty 2010 Post All-Star: .200 / .250 / .320

The numbers for righties remained pretty stable, but the numbers for lefties dropped like a rock. If this isn't just a half-season fluke it would mean Lannan has completely changed his recipe for success. He's gone from keeping righties from hitting the ball hard, to dominating lefties. He's gone from being the odd duck, to winning with more traditional southpaw skills.

Is this a real change? It'll take time to see of course, but if it is it could actually help the Nationals a great deal. This team has no lefties it can rely on. Detwiler is arguably the best one after John and who knows if he'll ever put it together. If John can manage lefties now the Nats can line him up against a lefty heavy team and hope to keep them contained.

Side Note - If you want to say the Phillies killed him on Monday - that's only kind of true. 4 runs in 5 2/3rds isn't good, but it was more a product of losing control (walk and HBP in that last inning), bad luck (Ibanez's hit was a swinging bunt), and bullpen failure (Stammen immediately giving up a double to Ruiz). It wasn't that the lefties were hitting him. (2-8 in total - with the swinging bunt being one. 3 Ks)

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