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Lannan likely to start at Braves

Lannan likely to start at Braves

He last pitched five days ago, tossing his second consecutive shutout for Class AAA Syracuse, so John Lannan would normally have been primed to return to the mound tonight.

Except there's nowhere for the left-hander to pitch tonight. The minor-league season has ended, and Edwin Jackson is starting for the Nationals against the Cubs.

The Nationals won't need Lannan until Stephen Strasburg makes his final start (scheduled for Sept. 12) and is shut down, opening a spot in their rotation. So what will he do until then?

The plan, as outlined by manager Davey Johnson today, calls for Lannan to throw on the side and keep his arm fresh, but not to appear in a game for at least another five days. Even then, he'll only pitch an inning or two out of the bullpen.

"It's like I'm skipping him a start," Johnson explained. "Today would normally be his day to pitch if he was on regular rest, but I'm skipping today. It's like if a guy I thought had a tired arm, I'm just going to skip him. And then in five more days, I'll think about getting him in a game for relief just to keep him sharp."

After that, Johnson plans to insert Lannan into his rotation, though not necessarily in Strasburg's exact slot. Actually, the Nationals would like to give Lannan his first start sometime during their Sept. 14-16 at the Braves.

Lannan has enjoyed more success against Atlanta (9-5, 3.20 ERA in 16 starts) than any other opponent, making it a favorable matchup.

After a difficult season in the minors after believing he would make the big-league rotation, Lannan believes he's both in a good frame of mind and is pitching well just in time to join a pennant race.

At the same time, the 27-year-old is being careful not to assume he'll pick up right where he left off when his minor-league season ended on a high note.

"I don't think it necessarily translates to up here," Lannan said. "I threw two great games. I'm not going to just assume I'm going to come up here and deal, because I was doing bad down there in July and I came up here and did well beating the Braves on July 21. I have to forget about everything that happened and just do my thing."

In other news, the Nationals activated Chien-Ming Wang off the disabled list prior to tonight's game. Wang, who had been on the DL with a right hip strain, will be available to pitch out of the bullpen but isn't likely to see much action.

Over three seasons with the Nationals, Wang has made 15 starts in the big leagues and 21 minor-league starts while rehabbing from various injuries.

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Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

The Washington Nationals have signed former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters to a one-year deal with a player option for a second year, according to multiple reports. 

Wieters spent the first eight years in the Majors with the Baltimore Orioles, being named to the AL All-Star team four times and winning two gold glove awards. Last season the switch-hitting catcher posted a .243 average with 17 homers and 66 RBI.  

The Nationals have been in the market for catchers all offseason after Wilson Ramos left for Tampa Bay in free agency. The team traded for former Padres catcher Derek Norris, whose role is now in question. The Nationals still have Jose Lobaton on the roster as a strong defensive backup catcher who has a proven rapport with many of the pitchers in the Nationals rotation. Wieters had been linked to the Nationals all offseason because of the team's need a the position and because of the Nationals close relationship with Wieters' agent Scott Boras. 

The only significant time that Wieters has missed due to injury in his career came in 2014-15 when he had Tommy John surgury. Prior to that surgury, however, Wieters had played in at least 130 games for four straight seasons and became a large part of the Orioles' identity. 

The 30-year-old backstop will give the Nationals lineup more depth and power. Wieters had three consecutive 20-homer seasons from 2011-13 and since 2009 when his career began, he ranks fifth among catchers in all of baseball in home runs with 117. 

Related: Nationals 2017 promotional schedule includes snow globes and fedoras

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Nationals 2017 promotional giveaways include snow globes and fedoras

Nationals 2017 promotional giveaways include snow globes and fedoras

The Washington Nationals recently released the dates of their promotional days and giveaways this season, and there are some real gems in this schedule.

Among the standard bobblehead giveaways — Daniel Murphy on April 14, Trea Turner on May 12 and Tanner Roark on June 9 — and the highly recommended Pups in the Park days — April 29, May 13, June 10, June 25, September 7 and September 30 — pick the right game and you could get a snow globe, an American flag shirt or even a fedora. Seriously.

On May 24’s game against the Mariners, the first 25,000 fans will get a Max Scherzer snow globe, which has the potential to be the coolest knickknack in your house. Or on June 14 against the Braves — oddly not closer to the Fourth of July — Budweiser is behind the first 15,000 21-and-up fans getting an American flag tank top.

But truly the most unique item on this list is the Nationals-themed fedora, which will go to the first 25,000 fans at the Brewers’ July 26 matchup. How the Nats landed on this promotional item remains a mystery, but if you like hats beyond a traditional baseball cap, this is the game to attend.

Other cool or oddball promotions include the Nats Magic 8-Ball game April 3, the Chewbacca Koozie day May 27, Bryce Harper action figure day August 29 and Oktoberfest beer stein day Sept. 29.

Here's the complete list of the team's promotional days and giveaways

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