Last night I saw an interview with John Lannan on CSN, and he discussed his trip down to the minors last season. He basically said that his delivery was screwed up thanks to an arm injury that threw his arm slot off, and he needed to be sent down to fix his motion. After returning, he felt that he was back to normal, as his second half proved. But he wasn’t just back to normal, he was better than normal.
After returning to the majors, he had arguably the best stretch of his MLB career. In 11 games, he pitched 68 1/3 innings. His ERA was 3.42, which beats any full season he’s had. But it wasn’t just that, he also struck out 47 and walked 14. That K/9 of 6.2 exceeded his best season, and the BB/9 of 1.8 was also a career low. His K/BB of 3.36 was over double his career high, and is the kind of number that makes sabermetricians salivate.
The only time in his career that he had a K/9 over 6 in any 11 game stretch in his career occurred at the end of the 2008 season. It happened over the course of 13 games, in starts 19-29, 20-30, and 21-31, he pitched 11 straight games with a K/9 well above 6. But in those instances, his BB/9 was 4.4, 4.3 and 4.6, nothing compared to last year’s stretch. Consequently, his K/BB in those stretches were a shade under 1.6, nothing to get people too excited.
It might not be off base to suggest that Lannan’s run from when he returned from the minors until the end of the season was the best stretch of his career. It wasn’t just that he struck out a good number of batters, although that was good, but he was able to do it while keeping his walks way down. If he comes out this year and does those sorts of things, maybe we can all agree with him, that his mechanics were an issue, and now that they’re fixed, he’s a better pitcher.