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07/26/09 1:15 AM ET

Lannan gives Nats' rotation consistency

Washington (29-68) vs. San Diego (38-60), 1:35 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON -- The past three days, the Nationals have trotted out a trio of pitchers -- Collin Balestar, Garrett Mock and J.D. Martin -- who in 2009 had zero starts, one start and one start, respectively, going into their most recent outings.

In a season in which rookie starting pitchers have come and gone like hotel visitors, it's a nice break in the rotation for a catcher to receive pitches from a veteran such as John Lannan, who has been the unwavering rock of the Washington rotation since Opening Day.

On Sunday, Lannan will take the mound for the 21st time this year, providing some stability for whichever Nationals backstop is behind the plate.

"Yeah, it's tough," catcher Josh Bard said about trying to deal with the revolving door of young pitchers. "When you get consistent starting pitching, and you know the guy who's out there and know each other's strengths and weaknesses, it's easier.

"Ultimately, we've been fortunate enough where I've caught these guys in Triple-A or Spring Training. You try to keep the plans as simple as possible. Just try to go with their strengths. Sometimes I think that's better for them."

Lannan is not only the lone pitcher to be in the rotation all season, he's also the only one on the active roster who has more than 12 starts.

Catcher Wil Nieves mentioned how he and Lannan have built up a trust. Nieves knows what the left-hander wants to throw, and he is rarely shaken off.

With the newcomers, it's all about getting to know each other.

"I think communication with the pitchers is key," Nieves said. "You talk a lot before the game and try to be on the same page. It's kind of hard when you're getting new pitchers."

Interim manager Jim Riggleman said that the onus is on the more experienced catchers to dictate the game's pace for the rookie starting pitchers.

"Both of our catchers have been around," Riggleman said of Bard, who has caught 427 games for four clubs, and Nieves, who has caught 160 for three teams. "I think those pitchers will have confidence in the fingers they put down. It will be on the catchers to get the pitchers in a routine."

Pitching matchup
WSH: LHP John Lannan (7-7, 3.38 ERA)
Call Lannan the stopper. On Tuesday night, he helped the Nationals break their six-game losing streak by pitching a shutout in a 4-0 victory over the Mets at Nationals Park. Lannan joined Pedro Astacio (Aug. 15, 2006) and John Patterson (Aug. 4, 2005) as the only Nationals hurlers to hold opponents scoreless in a complete-game win. It was Lannan's second complete game of the season. The first one also came against the Mets, on June 6 at Nationals Park.

SD: RHP Chad Gaudin (4-9, 4.82 ERA)
Gaudin was his own worst critic after his last start, a 3-2 loss to the Marlins at PETCO Park. "I didn't have great stuff," he said. "I was average." He allowed three runs on nine hits in six innings, which qualifies as a quality start. Gaudin struck out three and walked only two, controlling what had been his Achilles' heel. Padres manager Bud Black said Gaudin "hung in there," avoiding stressful situations effectively and working his way out of several jams.

The five pitchers in the Nationals' current rotation (Lannan, Craig Stammen, Balestar, Mock and Martin) have combined for 92 career starts. Their average age is 25 years, 3 months. Since June 30, a Nationals rookie starting pitcher has taken the hill 15 times in 21 games. ... Left-hander Ross Detwiler, who started 10 games for the Nationals this season, threw seven innings of three-run (two earned) ball for Triple-A Syracuse on Saturday. His ERA is now 3.75 with the Chiefs.

 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• MASN 2, WDCW DC-50

On radio
• WFED 1500, SBN 1390 (Español), ESPN 730 (Sp.)

Up next
• Monday: Nationals (Craig Stammen, 3-5, 4.14) at Brewers (Jeff Suppan, 5-7, 4.71), 8:05 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Nationals (Collin Balester, 0-1, 6.00) at Brewers (TBD), 8:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Nationals (Garrett Mock, 0-4, 7.06) at Brewers (Manny Parra, 4-8, 6.42), 8:05 p.m. ET

Mark Selig is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.