I don’t think I show ambiguity when it comes Washington Nationals pitcher Liván Hernández — I’m in the tank for the guy. Part of it is nostalgia — ¡LIVAN! was the first man to throw a pitch for the Nats in 2005, both on Opening Day and the first D.C. Home Opener in 34 years. He made the All-Star team that year during the magical 50-31 start. It isn’t all nostalgia though, part of it is watching a big guy throw slop all game long and get the job done. From what I heard on the radio, today was one of those days. The hefty Cuban defector went through inning after inning with great efficiency. It took only 102 pitches for ¡LIVAN! to earn a complete game victory against one of the top hitting teams in the National League, the Cincinnati Reds, in their bandbox of a home, Great American Ballpark. Was he aided by a getaway day strike zone? Perhaps, but a wise veteran knows how that works. He did not walk a batter and got five strikeouts. He never really got in trouble other than runners at the corners in 4th. A run got in, but it was no worry with the Nats doing so well with their bats. He even had a RBI.
Just look at what he’s now done this season. A 7-6 record. A 3.12 ERA. Two complete games. Thirteen starts in which he’s allowed two earned runs or less over six or more innings.
In other words, this isn’t just nostalgia, ¡LIVAN! is getting it done in a big way for the Nats. Like Thomas Boswell has said several times, he has bad starts that inflates some of his numbers, but ¡LIVAN! can get it done often enough to be valuable. Every year since the Clinton administration, ¡LIVAN! has started 30 games or more. This year, apparently the first he has been healthy since long-delayed knee surgery, ¡LIVAN! is pitching the best he has since 2005. Simply put, its been a joy for this Nats fan and I want him to stay here. I want him extended through next season right now. He is smart enough and should be able to keep throwing those mid-80s fastballs for a few more years when maybe, just maybe he can be apart of the first post-season team in Washington since 1933. That’s the fanboy talking again, but I’m not going to apologize for it. ¡LIVAN! makes being a Nats fan a lot more fun.
Fangraphs take An Improbable Start in An Improbable Season