John Lannan walks off the field in the second inning after suffering a left knee injury during the Phillies' 6-3 loss to the Braves. (USA Today Images)
ATLANTA -- John Lannan threw 45 pitches for the Phillies on Wednesday night. They may have been the last 45 pitches he ever throws for the ballclub.
Adding injury to the insult that has become this Phillies’ season, Lannan walked slowly off the mound in the second inning of his team’s 6-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves (see Instant Replay).
The loss gave the sad-sack Phillies a 5-19 record since the All-Star break and moved them a step closer to last place in the NL East. Only 6½ games separate them from last-place Miami. Don’t be surprised if the Phillies get there.
The Phils finished the road trip at 1-5. They went 1-8 on their previous road trip. The team returns home Friday night and the players might want to wear earplugs. The visitor that night will be the rampaging Los Angeles Dodgers. They entered Wednesday night with 39 wins in their previous 47 games. This might not be a fair fight.
Atlanta is just as hot as the Dodgers. Owners of the majors’ best record, the Braves are 19-4 over their last 22 games. Five of those wins have come against the Phillies.
The Braves took it to Lannan early Wednesday night. Jason Heyward hit the third pitch Lannan threw over the center-field wall and the Braves were off and running. In all, Lannan allowed five runs in 1 1/3 inning.
A left knee injury that has bothered Lannan for some time bounced him from the game in the second inning. The left-hander now looks at an uncertain future. He is under team control for next season, but it’s possible the team will pass on offering him salary arbitration and let him become a free agent.
“There are a lot of decisions to be made,” GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “He is certainly somebody, like a lot of guys, that we’ll have to discuss. He’s pitched well at times. At times he’s struggled.”
Lannan, who missed time with a strained quadriceps tendon in the area of his left knee earlier this season, will be checked by doctors on Thursday. He could be facing season-ending surgery.
“I had the quad problem and some structural damage that happened over the years,” Lannan said. “The other thing, not the quad tendon, flared up before my last start. I tried to fight through it, but it was obviously affecting the way I was throwing.
“I want to get it fixed. That’s what it comes down to. Short-term that could create a lot of questions, but long-term, if I get it fixed, I feel I can have a decent career.”
Lannan signed a one-year deal worth $2.5 million with the Phillies in the offseason. He is 3-6 with a 5.33 ERA in 14 starts.
“It’s tough because I want to help the team,” he said. “I know what I can do when I’m healthy. I feel like I’m letting everyone down.”
Lannan has plenty of company in that area. Since the All-Star break, Phillies starting pitchers not named Cole Hamels have a combined ERA of 8.04.
Lannan goes down just as the Phillies are getting closer to getting two pitchers off the disabled list. Roy Halladay and Jonathan Pettibone will both make minor-league rehab starts on Thursday.
Halladay will probably make at least one other rehab start and could return to the rotation during the final week of August.
Down 5-0 after two innings, the Phillies got little going against Atlanta’s Brandon Beachy, who allowed just two runs over six innings.
Some of the Phillies' youngsters looked good. Domonic Brown singled, doubled and smacked his 27th homer. Darin Ruf homered and got a couple good breaks on fly balls to right field. Cody Asche made a couple of nice plays at third base.
Other than that, there’s not much to feel good about with this team.
“It’s tough,” Michael Young said. “There’s no way around that. As a player, there’s two directions you can go: You can pack it in or you can keep fighting. At that point, it comes down to pride as a player. You keep fighting -- scratch and claw and do anything you can to help the team win.”
Young said the mood of the team is down.
“But it should be down,” he said. “You’re not supposed to lose in the big leagues, especially with this organization. We’re not supposed to lose. At the same time, you should feel bad after a loss. But when you get to the ballpark the next day, it’s a new opportunity to show what you’re made of.”