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In the midst of the Nationals‘ worst stretch, a 1-7 road trip in mid-May that ended with a sweep in Milwaukee, Lannan was 2-5 with an ERA over 5.00 and with the memory of being shipped to Double-A in 2010 fresh in his mind. Opponents were hitting .303 against him, and the Orioles, one of the worst teams in the American League, had just tagged him for six runs in six innings.Livan Hernandez, Ivan Rodriguez and the 35 years of major league experience between them, sat Lannan down on the team’s charter flight and told the 26-year-old lefty that enough was enough. Enough time had gone by where they watched Lannan’s lack of conviction in his ability derail him.“You’re really good,” Hernandez told him. “It’s important for you to know that you’re good, because you are. You really are.”“It’s tough for me to believe it,” Lannan admitted, looking back on the talk. “Trusting it is a huge part of my game.”That conversation was followed by an hourlong chat with pitching coach Steve McCatty after a bullpen session in which Lannan threw twice his normal amount of pitches - on the advice of Hernandez. Then came a string of starts that would rival those of some of the best pitchers in the league.“When those guys sit you down and say something to you, it not only means they’re probably telling the truth, it means that they care enough to tell you something,” Lannan said. “They gave me advice, and I took it.”Starting with 7 2/3 scoreless innings against the San Diego Padres his next time out, Lannan reeled off 11 straight starts where he averaged 6 1/3 innings and never allowed more than three earned runs. He also threw his sinker almost exclusively, with authority, and dropped his opponents batting average to .218 in that time.
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