The front of the Washington Nationals' starting rotation is superb. With Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, and new additions Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson, there's an argument to be made that the Nationals' starters have comparable stuff to the Phillies' starters. An argument. With those four in place, the Nationals held a spring competition for the fifth starting slot, thought to be between John Lannan and Chien-Ming Wang. One would win and start, while the other would lose and ... not start, or start in the minors, or something. And then probably eventually start for the Nationals since teams rarely use just five starters.
Earlier in camp, Wang severely injured his hamstring attempting a play at first base. That injury will keep him out for still more weeks, meaning the winner of the competition between him and Lannan is ... neither of them! Surprise! Here's Adam Kilgore:
The Nationals plan to option John Lannan to Class AAA Syracuse, a person with ties to the organization said, which presumably makes Ross Detwiler the Nationals' No. 5 starter entering this season.
Lannan is due a $5 million salary this season. You don't often see those players sent to the minors. Additionally, Lannan was the Nationals' opening-day starter in 2009, and again in 2010. You don't often see those players sent to the minors. But Lannan's going to the minors, apparently.
It's not like Lannan's had that bad of a spring. He's allowed 14 runs in 21 innings, sure, but Jackson's allowed 19 runs in 23 innings, and Lannan's actually posted a higher strikeout rate than Stephen Strasburg. Read that again. In Washington Nationals spring training, John Lannan has posted a higher strikeout rate than Stephen Strasburg, who is supposed to be able to strike a hitter out by winking at him suggestively. Lannan's been all right. I guess he hasn't been good enough.
Ross Detwiler's been solid, so maybe that's what this is about. If this report is true. Maybe the Nationals just feel like Detwiler is better right now than Lannan is, and that Lannan wouldn't be a great fit for the bullpen. Lannan was probably going to be booted from the rotation anyway once Wang heals up.
What's becoming very much evident is that John Lannan's all but out of a home in Washington. Trade rumors have been flying, and they'll continue to circle until the Nationals end up with a need for Lannan, or until Lannan finally gets dealt somewhere. Or until Lannan gets hurt. That would be bad, but we can't just sweep that possibility under the rug.