WASHINGTON, D.C. - Random thoughts after watching 23-year-old John Lannon humiliate a once-potent Cubs lineup from the cheap seats at sparkling Nationals Park in D.C.
- First, let's talk about Lannon. I know, it's hard not to throw in a Yoko Ono joke here, but i'll refrain. Lannon, who had a 1.66 ERA for the AAA Columbus Clippers last year, is a 6-foot-5 lefty, who doesn't have the most overpowering stuff, but don't tell the Cubs this. Lannon, who according to his manager didn't have his best stuff on Sunday, scattered 4 hits and 4 BB, striking out 3 Cubs, but he kept them off-balanced all day, and induced a key bases-loaded DP in the 5th from Ryan Theriot. Lannon's scoreless inning streak is up to 19 and he should now be considered in all formats, although more valuable in a 4x4.
- One of Lannon's four hits surrendered seemed like a routine fly ball to left field off the bat of Kosuke Fukudome, but because of awful conditions and grey skies, Willy Mo Pena appeared never to see it and it went right over his head. Aramis Ramirez, with calendar speed, was conservatively held at third and stranded. Willy Mo! Yes, he's back and still carrying the big stick. Mo's probably worth a gamble in some deeper leagues.
- Ryan Zimmerman looks like he could be a guest star on "Lost" right now. He's not just striking out a lot (3 times Sunday and 22 times in 26 games), but the 3B stud and face of the Nats is just looking bad as he's whiffing. Might be time for a day off (Zimmerman is currently second on the consecutive games played list behind Jeff Francoeur after Grady Sizemore missed a game with an ankle injury).
- Felipe Lopez, who recently won the regular 2B job over Ronnie Belliard is too frustrating to own on any of my teams. I suppose every NL-only roster can use a Lopez, but after an 0-for-4 day Sunday, he's hitting .254 and hasn't attempted a SB since April 18.
- Ted Lilly appears to have found his groove, giving up just 4 singles and walking 2 while striking out 7. It'll take a couple more decent starts to recommend a dip into the Lilly pond, but keep an eye on the Cubs lefty who is usually a good source of K's, regardless.
- Jon Rausch looks like a closer. Whether he'll finish the season as the Nats closer depends a lot on the health of Chad Cordero, but at 6-11, Rausch comes out in the 9th and you get the feeling that the game's over. And after disposing of the Cubs in about 90 seconds, it was over on Sunday, 2-0 Nationals. I think 40 percent of a closer's effectiveness is the intimidation factor. Rausch has that covered.
- The jumbo screen at the Nationals Park is simply outstanding. It may even be HD. More to come later in the week, when I talk more about the new park and why you should plan a trip this summer to check it out.