Washington Nationals Headed For Another Long Season

Bobby OlerContributor IApril 6, 2009

VIERA, FL - FEBRUARY 21:  John Lannan #31 of the Washington Nationals poses during photo day at Roger Dean Stadium on February 21, 2009 in Viera, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

John Lannan, the Nationals' supposed secret weapon heading into this season, flamed out in the first opening day start of his young career.

In his three innings pitched, he allowed six runs off six hits for an 18.0 ERA.

The Nationals made it a point to get younger at pitcher over the offseason, and Lannan was supposed to be the gem of the group. He had never played against the Marlins in his career, and struggled to stay ahead of the count.

His relievers, Julian Tavarez, Wil Ledezma, and Steven Shell had ERAs of 18.0, 18.0, and 4.5, respectively. They, like Lannan, also gave up a combined total of six runs off six hits. A notable difference is that they did it in five innings, Lannan in three.

Michael Hinckley pitched the ninth inning for the Nationals and gave up no hits or runs.

The only glimmer of hope from the game is that Adam Dunn delivered on the $40 million he'll be earning over the next two years. He scored twice, including a three-run home run to make the game 8-5 in the top of the sixth. Christian Guzman also scored twice, while Ryan Zimmerman and Nick Johnson each scored once.

Six runs is a decent opening day performance for the Nats' offense that struggled to score last season. Unfortunately, they don't have the pitching staff to support them. If today is any indication, they will need eight-plus runs per game just to be competitive.

It's only opening day, and there are 161 of these left to go, but any cautious optimism by fans should be put on hold for another year. Will they lose 102 games again? Probably not. Will they win 102 games? Definitely not.