Manager Davey Johnson implied John Lannan, the Nationals’ opening day starter in 2009 and 2010 who has pitched all year at Class AAA Syracuse, will make his 2012 major league debut Saturday during a doubleheader at Nationals Park against the Braves.
The Nationals will need an extra starter because they do not have any days between now and Saturday, a span of five days. The Nationals adjusted Lannan’s scheduled so he would start tonight for Syracuse, giving him the standard four days rest before Saturday.
Johnson did not come right out and say Lannan will be called up. But he made the point that Yunesky Maya and Ryan Perry were the only other healthy minor-league starters on the 40-man roster. “So it’ll be one of them,” Johnson said. “Who do you think?”
Lannan, 27, went 10-13 with a 3.70 ERA for the Nationals last season. Between 2008 and 2011, Lannan started 122 games and pitched 716 1/3 innings. But this spring, the Nationals chose Ross Detwiler over Lannan as their fifth starter and optioned Lannan to the minors. At Syracuse, Lannan has gone 6-8 with a 4.60 ERA.
On the eve of Opening Day, Lannan requested a trade. The Nationals have received many trade inquiries about Lannan, but they are loathe to part with him because they need a capable starter for late in the season, after Stephen Strasburg surpasses his yet-to-be-determined innings limit.
The Nationals can add Lannan, who is making $5 million this year, to their 25-man roster Saturday without sending anyone down. Under new rules, teams may add a 26th player for doubleheaders. Lannan’s minor league option lasts all season, so the Nationals would be able to send him back down without the risk of losing him to another team.