John Lannan put out another solid start at Triple-A Syracuse over the weekend to finally take his minors ERA this season under the 5.00 mark. He pitched his third game allowing just one earned run in his last four, and signs of progress are clear.
Lannan has had an overall miserable year after being demoted to Syracuse in spring training. He was the expected fifth starter for the big league club before being sent down in lieu of lefty Ross Detwiler. Lannan posted a 5.19 ERA in the month of April and saw batters hit .308 off of him.
Things got worse in May as Lannans ERA soared even higher to 6.00 and his opponents batting average went all the way to .328.
This month, however, Lannans ERA is a solid 3.00 and he has earned two wins and a no decision in three of his last four outings. He will need to continue his progress throughout the month to get his ERA down closer to 4.00, but an opportunity at the major league level could present itself soon.
Number five starter Chien-Ming Wang has yet to make it through the sixth inning in a start and sits with a 4.67 ERA. Lannan can reposition himself as the next man up in case of an injury, or if neither Wang or Detwiler can lock down the fifth spot.
Also, with Stephen Strasburgs innings limit about half-way through, at least one pitcher will be needed late in the year. That guy should in theory be Lannan who held a 3.70 ERA last season in 184.2 innings with the Nats. But if he reverts back to not being able to get Triple-A hitters out, they may consider other options.
You can always count on the New York Daily News to run an audacious cover. The tabloid delivered again Friday with an image edited to show two of the league's best young hitters in Yankees pinstripes: Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper and Orioles short stop Manny Machado.
"Bats to the Future" is exactly the headline you'd expect, too.
It's hard to tell what's more odious to Washington and Baltimore fans: the image itself or the suggestion that baseball's new collective bargaining agreement makes it easier for the Yankees to poach their stars.
The premise of that argument comes from sources who say the new CBA contains two changes beneficial to New York: reduced revenue sharing burden (due to tweaks in how sharing is calculated, plus a deduction for the cost of building and running Yankee Stadium) and an increased luxury tax threshold.
Without going into number crunching detail, the Daily News explains how the club could afford Harper and/or Machado when they become free agents after the 2018 season.
The article's tone of inevitability, despite its many assumptions, will rankle fans of all 29 other teams. After all, the Yankees aren't the only franchise interested in Harper and Machado.
The Nationals and Orioles will presumably try to keep their stars. But to do that, they may have to fend off potentially historic money from the Bronx.
MORE BASEBALL: Nats let Ben Revere walk
Ben Revere was brought to Washington in the hopes he could solve the centerfield and lead-off issue that plagued them the previous year. After just one year, the Nationals have decided to move on from Revere as they declined to tender him.
The move makes Revere a free agent after a .217/.260/.300 season that fell way below expectations. Revere tied his career-high with two home runs and added 24 RBI while scoring 44 runs.
Stay tuned for more information!