John Lannan Trade Rumors: 4 Reasons the Detroit Tigers Are a Horrible Fit
As spring training winds down, the rumor mill continues to swirl endlessly, and the Detroit Tigers are at the center of one of the most popular rumors.
With a roster full of talent, the Tigers would be making an enormous mistake if they were to go after Lannan before Opening Day. The Tigers have a plethora of young, talented arms, including Andy Oliver, Drew Smyly and Duane Below as the three most likely to take the fifth spot in the rotation.
Here are four reasons why the Tigers would be making a huge mistake in attempting a trade for John Lannan.
4. Move to American League Could Prove Costly
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It is unfair to assume that any pitcher would struggle in a shift from the National League to the American League. However, one cannot argue with the simple facts of both leagues.
First of all, the American League posseses a much more potent lineup in the batter's box than the National League. With Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder making the move to the AL, the league has become even stronger. The addition of those two power hitters to the already dominant group of players (including Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Bautista) has made the American League lineups many times harder to get through three times a game.
Secondly, all lineups in the National League feature the pitcher. Since most pitchers cannot hit the ball even half as well as most position players, this gives National league pitchers an advantage because they face the pitchers at least three times a game, if not more.
While John Lannan is a perfect fifth starter, he is not a perfect fit for the Tigers. He would struggle against the above-average hitting he would face in the American League and would serve no better than what Brad Penny delivered during the 2011 season.
3. Not Worth Trade
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The Tigers are in a great position, as they have a great deal of young talent in their farm system. While the Tigers could still pull off a trade for Lannan or any other available pitcher, it may prove to be unnecessary once the season begins.
Because the future looks bright for the Tigers, there is no reason to give up any of this talent in order to bring in a pitcher of Lannan's caliber. Based on his numbers in the National League with the Washington Nationals and a possible regression upon a move to the American League, Lannan could prove to be a worse option than any of the possible three pitchers left in the fifth starter battle.
With the plethora of pitching talent the Tigers have, including Drew Smyly, Duane Below, Andy Oliver, Adam Wilk and Jacob Turner, there is no reason to send one of them off to Washington for a pitcher who may have more MLB experience (128 games) but has less potential for success.
There is no one in the farm system worth trading to receive John Lannan in return. Once the Tigers find their fifth starter within their current roster, everyone will be pleasantly surprised.
2. Gives Up a Lot of Offense
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The numbers speak for themselves, and they definitely prove that Lannan is an average, if not below average, pitcher who would represent little to no improvement in the area of fifth starter.
In the 128 games that Lannan has pitched for the Nationals, he has given up a career .272 batting average, 77 home runs and 334 earned runs. This has led him to a career 4.00 ERA, a 75% winning percentage and a below average WHIP of 1.42.
There is no doubt that these numbers would likely rise if he were to make the move to a more dominant hitting American League. The use of the designated hitter may also prove difficult for a pitcher transitioning from the National League, as they are usually only concerned with the opposing team's pitcher and not a truly professional hitter.
1. Better Options on Team
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As Jason Beck, Detroit Tigers' beat writer, recently wrote in his blog, the three pitchers left in the running for the fifth starter position are Drew Smyly, Andy Oliver and Duane Below. All of these pitchers are much better options for the spot than John Lannan.
Here are the numbers for the three players and John Lannan:
Drew Smyly: 8 IP, 1 ER, .154 average against, .88 WHIP
Andy Oliver: 12.2 IP, 3 ER, .098 average against, .95 WHIP
Duane Below: 12.1 IP, 6 ER, .302 average against, 1.78 WHIP
John Lannan: 18 IP, 9 ER, .275 average against, 1.33 WHIP
Oddly enough, the pitcher with the upper hand in this situation may be Duane Below. While the other two have better numbers, Below has more MLB experience, as he spent time as both a starter and reliever during the 2011 season.
While Lannan may have more experience and have similar numbers to the players above, the ceilings for the three Tiger pitchers are far higher than that of John Lannan. Once Jacob Turner enters the fold, positions in the Tiger's starting rotation will be few and far between for any pitchers.
Right now, Andy Oliver is in the lead to win the spot, in my opinion. He has amazing potential and could prove incredibly valuable and consistent in the fifth spot in the rotation.
UPDATE: The Washington Post has recently reported that John Lannan will be the Nationals' fifth starter once the season begins.