First off, I find it incredibly ironic that one of the NFL's most respected players, Marvin Harrison, is in some trouble. Even though things are pointing at this time toward the fact that he's not responsible, I still find it hard to believe that he could have even gotten himself in that position in the first place.
The Nats got creamed yesterday and pulled out a close one today, both against the Pittsburgh Pirates. John Lannan got roughed up in last night's 11-4 loss, allowing 6 runs (5 earned) in only 3 innings. If he continues his 2:1 ratio of quality starts to complete implosions, he should be safe on the Nats' staff. His 3:2 K:BB ratio is a bit frightening at this point (although it's better than last year's atrocity of 10 K to 17 BB). At least he's getting a chance unlike last year where guys like Levale Speigner and Jerome Williams got way too many starts.
Matt Chico pitched almost as bad today, giving up 5 runs (4 earned) in 4 and 1/3 innings. Unlike Lannan, however, Chico has only one quality start for the entire year (which makes this headline, "Nats turn to Chico for a quality start" incredibly ironic. That's like my girlfriend turning to me for fashion advice). If Michael O'Connor can bounce back from his poor performance last night (4 runs allowed in 3 and 2/3 innings in mopup work), I can see him taking over Chico's spot in the rotation while Chico trades spots in Columbus with Chris Schroder, who is wreaking havoc on AAA, with 18 K and only 1 run allowed in 10 and 1/3 innings pitched.
Don't look now, but Joel Hanrahan is bouncing back from a bad start to the year. In his last 7 and 1/3 innings (including today), he's allowed only 2 runs with 13 strikeouts and only 3 walks. It's also funny that Bill Ladson of MLB.com wrote this in the midst of Hanrahan's hottest stretch of the season. The guy's only 26 years old, and has a ton of potential (that he was light years away from last year). He's still adjusting to life in the bullpen, as this is his first year there. The team is using him mostly in blowouts (as the team is 1-12 when he pitches, only 5 games of which the winner was within 3 runs of the loser), but keep an eye on him in your fantasy leagues anyways (if anyone already has their grips on him, they must REALLY be hurting for K's) and look to pick him up if he keeps this stretch of solid, strikeout-filled pitching up.
One last Nats note: Jonah Keri of ESPN's Page 2 wrote this column while sipping on some ice cold Haterade. Inside, he names the Nats as one of five "failure dynasties" (along with Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Kansas City). It's interesting, because these teams are all somewhat on the up. The Rays rebuilt their farm system and are finally looking to reap the benefits this year with a finish around .500. The Orioles started hot and guys like Adam Jones and Matt Weiters show a ton of promise. Pittsburgh has some chips to move at the deadline, including Xavier Nady, and could come away with some prize prospects to make up for some bad drafting in the early 21st century. Kansas City is a bit of a disappointment this year (thats what you get for relying too much on Jose Guillen!!) but has some guys with unlimited potential like Alex Gordon and Billy Butler, not to mention some of their pitching prospects. The Nats are on the up as well, completely rebuilding their farm system with some guys they've gotten through the draft (Marrero, Willems, Smoker, Detwiler, Burgess, McGreary, etc.) and through trades (Martis, Mock). The problem is, what if none of these guys plan out (not just for the Nats, but for any team)? Then you're stuck in the perrenial rut of the "failure dynasty." While I hate to admit it, unless the Nats prove something in the next few years, they might need more than a big FA signing and a new-ish stadium to get butts in seats. The one thing I disagree with: Keri says the Nats won't have a winning season until 2012. I think that they should be able to hit .500 by 2010.