The Milwaukee Brewers couldn’t muster much offense against Washington pitching in Friday night’s series opener. They may encounter more trouble Saturday against a Nationals rookie already drawing comparisons to a future hall of famer.
John Lannan takes the mound for the Nationals, who seek a second straight win over the Brewers as the teams continue their four-game series in Washington.
Lannan (4-4, 3.40 ERA) has only 15 major league starts under his belt, including nine this season, but has been highly impressive in several of them. On Sunday at Baltimore, he lasted 7 1-3 innings in the Nationals’ 2-1 victory, limiting the Orioles to one run and four hits while throwing 71 of his 105 pitches for strikes.
“He threw 70 percent of his pitches for strikes. That’s Greg Maddux-like on his good days,” Nationals (21-28) manager Manny Acta said. “He hit the glove all day. Also we were getting quick outs. The kid deserves all the credit.”
Lannan has given up one earned run or none five times in his last seven starts, compiling a 4-2 record and 2.55 ERA over that span. Although the 23-year-old left-hander has lasted at least six innings in six of those outings, he has his sights set on his first career complete game.
“Yeah, every time I go out there I want to go the distance,” he said. “Seven innings is good but I’d rather go out there and throw the whole game. That’s always my goal. Hopefully, by the end of the season I’ll be able to do it.”
He’ll try to do it against a Milwaukee (22-26) club which fell to 2-5 on its current road trip with a 5-1 loss in Friday’s series opener. Shortstop J.J. Hardy’s error led to Washington’s four-run sixth inning as the Brewers lost for the seventh time in nine games overall.
“We’ve had our ups and downs,” said starter Jeff Suppan, who limited the Nationals to three hits in 5 2-3 innings but got charged with four unearned runs and the tough-luck loss.
Milwaukee had eight hits Friday—five more than Washington—but went just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position to fall to 13-for-68 (.191) in RBI situations on the road trip.
The Brewers will call on Seth McClung (1-1, 3.54) to make his first start since 2006, when he was with Tampa Bay. McClung, who has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen up until now in his two seasons in Milwaukee, hasn’t experienced much success as a starter. He went 12-20 with a 6.17 ERA in 37 starts for the Tampa Bay franchise—then known as the Devil Rays—from 2003-06.
However, the right-hander has been pitching well lately in relief. McClung has a 1.62 ERA and a .155 opponent batting average over his last nine outings, while striking out 18 batters in 16 2-3 innings.
He has never faced the Nationals.