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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 Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

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Nationals Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

On Thursday night, a Washington, D.C. pro sports team did something Washington, D.C. pro sports teams are very good at doing: fall short of making a league or championship game.

The Nationals' disastrous fifth inning against the Cubs in Game 5 of the National League Divisional Series was the beginning of the end, not to mention yet another in a long line of disappointing playoff results for Washington, D.C. sports teams.

You see, Washington, D.C. is the only city with at least three major pro sports teams to not have a single one make a conference or league championship game since 2000.

To make matters worse, Washington, D.C. sports teams have now lost 16 consecutive playoff games in which a win would've advanced the team to the conference or league championship. 

Think about that for a second. Four teams. Zero conference championship appearances since 1998. 

Here's the list.

Washington, D.C. sports fans are not greedy. We can't be. We've had some very good teams recently, with the type of talent, coaching and intangibles needed to win a championship. 

TRY THIS: 20 THINGS DC SPORTS FANS SHOULD BE HAPPY ABOUT. YES, HAPPY.

The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team won a world championship was in 1992 when the Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI.  The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team even made a conference championship game was in 1998, when the Capitals advanced to the Eastern Conference Final, defeating the Sabres to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Washington, D.C. isn't allowed to have nice sports things.

Sure, we have great players and great teams, but when the playoffs roll around, all the nice things go away. We aren't privy to plucky upstarts who run the table and we aren't privy to dominant teams that make long postseason runs.

Washington, D.C. will have its day, eventually. Sure it may only be a conference championship appearance, but for us, that's fine. We don't expect world championships. We just want something to get invested in.

Early playoff exits are rarely worth the investment.

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With contractual decisions looming, Nats missed chance at stress-free World Series run

With contractual decisions looming, Nats missed chance at stress-free World Series run

"This is the year."

That's the motto for almost every D.C. sports fan when their team is headed for the postseason.

The Nats led a weak NL East the entire season and clinched a spot to play October baseball early into September.

RELATED: COUNTLESS ERRORS DOOM NATIONALS IN SEASON-ENDING LOSS

The team overcame the obstacle of being plagued with injuries and with pitchers like Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer having a strong bullpen to back them up, the stars were aligning for the team to go all the way.

But now with players like Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy having contracts up for grabs in 2019, Nationals reporter Chelsea Janes says 2017 was really the last chance for the team to win a stress-free title.

"I think those questions you've raised like Bryce [Harper's] contract, [Daniel} Murphy may be leaving, you know Rizzo's contract's up after next year, I think those are the things they didn't have to deal with this year that made this such a free chance," Janes said on the Sports Junkies Friday.

"It was a free chance to just feel good and do it now and not have everyone say this is your absolute last chance, and next year it's their absolute last chance for a little while, I think."

"I mean they're not going to be awful in '19, but they're going to be different and I think they've sort of wasted their free pass here and there's legitimate and kind of unrelenting pressure on them next year to make it happen."

It's hard to make sense of what a team will look like one day after a devastating series loss. One thing that is fairly certain is that time is ticking for the Nats to make it happen with arguably the most talented group of players they've ever had.