Bryce Harper will try to continue doing his best to soften the blow of the missing ace.
Lannan and Harper look to keep the NL East leaders rolling and beat the New York Mets on the road for a franchise-record eighth straight game Wednesday night.
The Nationals (88-54) are seemingly headed for the postseason for the first time since 1981 when they were the Montreal Expos, so their decision to shut down Strasburg for the rest of the season has drawn national criticism and scrutiny. They made the move to better preserve his arm following his first full season after undergoing Tommy John surgery two years ago.
The controversial move leaves Washington without its ace, who is 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA with 197 strikeouts. His final start was supposed to be in the finale of this series, but manager Davey Johnson shut him down after he allowed five runs in three innings Friday against Miami.
Lannan (2-0, 3.46 ERA) was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse on Saturday to face the Mets (65-77). He went 3-1 with a 1.63 ERA and two complete games over his last five starts with Syracuse after beating Miami in his most recent outing for the Nationals on Aug. 3.
"Obviously it's different, I'm not throwing in front of 200 people here, so the adrenaline is probably more up here than it is down there," Lannan told the team's official website. "It's just something that happens. It feels great, because I haven't been in a lot of pressure situations down there, but I'm ready."
Lannan isn't expected to be part of Washington's playoff rotation, but the left-hander will try to help the club to its 12th victory in 15 games.
He's 3-1 with a 1.95 ERA in his past five starts against the Mets, but hasn't faced them since a win at Citi Field on April 10, 2010.
The Nationals are 13-4 versus New York this year, winning seven in a row as the visitor to match the team record set from 1979-80.
Harper is 7 for 19 with two doubles, one homer and four RBIs in five visits to Flushing, and continued that impressive production with his first four-hit game while driving in a run in Tuesday's 5-3 victory.
The 19-year-old rookie phenom is hitting .389 with six homers, 12 RBIs and 15 runs in 14 games.
Jayson Werth , batting .354 in 12 games, is also pounding Mets pitching at a .414 clip in eight contests after going 2 for 2 with three walks Tuesday.
New York has lost 21 of 25 at home, including the first five of this six-game homestand while scoring nine runs and batting .204. The Mets haven't scored more than three runs in a club-record 12 consecutive home games, losing 10.
Similar to Strasburg, rookie Matt Harvey (3-4, 3.04) is expected to be shut down after reaching his innings limit, which he's on target to hit for his next start.
"Those aren't my calls, whatever they decide is fine," Harvey told the team's official website.
The 23-year-old right-hander is scheduled to face the Nationals for the first time, and he's 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA in two home starts while getting backed by one total run.
Harvey didn't get any support at St. Louis on Sept. 4, allowing all three of his runs in the second inning and pitching five overall in a 5-1 defeat.
|September 03, 2012||Michael Morse||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right thumb|
|September 02, 2012||Jayson Werth||Day-to-Day||Sore hamstring|
|August 24, 2012||Ian Desmond||Day-to-Day||Strained right hamstring|
|August 24, 2012||Michael Morse||Day-to-Day||Left game - right hand contusion|
|August 13, 2012||Jayson Werth||Day-to-Day||Sore right ankle|
|August 05, 2012||Mark DeRosa||15-Day DL||Left abdominal strain|
|New York Mets|
|September 07, 2012||Andres Torres||Day-to-Day||Left knee bruise|
|August 18, 2012||Johan Santana||15-Day DL||Lower back inflammation|
|August 15, 2012||Rob Johnson||60-Day DL||Torn ligament, left thumb|
|August 02, 2012||Tim Byrdak||60-Day DL||Sore left shoulder|
|July 31, 2012||Andres Torres||Day-to-Day||Strained right thumb|
|July 31, 2012||Jason Bay||Day-to-Day||Bruised left calf|
NEW YORK (AP) -- John Lannan knows he can't pitch like Stephen Strasburg . What he can do is compete like the Washington Nationals ' ace.
Lannan pitched five-hit ball over 5 2-3 innings in his first start since replacing Strasburg in Washington's starting rotation, and the Nationals lowered their magic number for clinching a playoff berth to five with a 2-0 win over the punchless New York Mets on Wednesday night.
"It's definitely strange. There's a lot of strange things going on," Lannan said. "What's going on with Stras, it just hasn't happened before."
Ryan Zimmerman homered in the fourth off rookie Matt Harvey (3-5) and Ian Desmond connected off Jon Rauch in the eighth, helping the NL East leaders complete a three-game sweep and open an 8 1/2-game lead over the second-place Braves heading into a three-game series at Atlanta starting Friday. The Nationals are closing in on the capital's first postseason baseball berth since the original Washington Senators in 1933.
"This was a big series," manager Davey Johnson said. "We need to kind of drive the nail in their coffin over here and come into Atlanta in a good frame of mind."
A native of nearby Long Beach, Lannan (3-0) struck out two and walked one in an 81-pitch outing. Lannan, Washington's opening-day starter in 2009 and 2010, was 9-11 with a 4.30 ERA at Triple-A Syracuse and asked the Nationals to trade him when he was demoted at the end of spring training.
"It all happened for a reason, I guess," he said. "I just don't look back on it with anger or anything. It just is what it is. It happened, and we've just got to move on."
Pitching before about 20 family members and friends, he made his first appearance since a minor league outing on Aug. 30 and improved to 4-1 with a 1.69 ERA in his last six starts against the Mets. Without Strasburg's dominant fastball, the left-handed Lannan relies on changing speeds and control.
"He earned a lot of respect in this clubhouse," said reliever Sean Burnett , who gave up two hits and got two outs in the ninth - his first appearance since Sept. 2 following a layoff caused by an irritated nerve in his pitching elbow.
Drew Storen came in and retired pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy on a game-ending flyout with runners at the corners for his second save. The surging Nationals have won nine of 11 and 12 of 15.
Harvey struck out 10 in five-plus innings, his latest impressive performance. New York, however, finished an 0-6 homestand and dropped to 65-78, falling 13 games under .500 for the first time since finishing 2009 at 70-92. The Mets have lost eight of nine overall.
They also extended their club-record streak of scoring three runs or fewer to 13 straight home games. They have lost 22 of their last 26 in Queens and have just four wins at Citi Field since the All-Star break - two fewer than the Nationals.
"It's frustrating for all 35 guys in that clubhouse, besides the players, and the coaches and the front office," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We set the bar pretty high in April and May. Our club wasn't picked to be very good and we set the bar up there.
"Right now, we just cannot seem to recreate what happened in April."
Washington cut short Strasburg's season last weekend, wanting to protect the 24-year-old right-hander's arm following ligament-replacement surgery on Sept. 3, 2010.
While the Nationals initially intended to make Wednesday's game his final start of the year, they moved up their timetable because they said the limit was weighing on his mind. Strasburg finished 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA in 28 starts with 197 strikeouts in 159 1-3 innings.
Johnson said he might use Strasburg as a pinch-hitter down the stretch. Strasburg is hitting .277 with one homer, four doubles and seven RBIs.
"If I can't use your arm, I'll use your bat," Johnson said. "He's pretty bad now but he's going to get worse because he's going to be chomping."
Johnson said Strasburg keeps asking pitching coach Steve McCatty about what his routine should be.
"Of course, he's been pestering Cat about what he can do," Johnson added. "Can I keep throwing off the mound? No. Can I play catch in the outfield? Yes."
NOTES: Washington has won eight in a row in Queens and 12 of 13. ... Nationals LF Michael Morse missed the game after he was diagnosed with a torn cuff and a bone bruise in his left wrist. ... Players' association head Michael Weiner, undergoing treatment for a brain tumor, was in the Mets' clubhouse speaking with players before the game. ... Zimmerman extended his hitting streak to 16 games and set a franchise record by driving in a run for the ninth straight game, one more than Larry Walker (1993), Moises Alou ('93 and `94) and Vladimir Guerrero ('98). Zimmerman also made several sparkling plays with his glove at third.