Livan Hernandez, Craig Stammen, and new fathers
Tomorrow, probably right around sunrise, Livan Hernandez will roll into Nats camp, and having seen this act before (he joined the Nats under similar circumstances in late August 2009), I'm already assuming how this will look. Some guys, they even walk like big leaguers. Livo will be wearing 10 pounds of jewelry; he'll fill his clubhouse locker with high-end-luggage; he'll banter with teammates free and loose. He'll be the new guy, but he'll look like he belongs. Livo is one of those guys who might be fighting for a job, but with his actions he'll look like he already has it.
I'm sorry, I can't envision a scenario in which Livo doesn't open the season in Washington's rotation. Manager Jim Riggleman on Thursday morning described his newest 35-year-old pitcher as somebody who can "eat up innings." Somebody who is "durable" and "throws strikes" and acts like "a pro." Those other pitchers vying for the last rotation spots "don't have a lot of experience," Riggleman said.
We can see where this is going.
So let me offer some numbers that show Livan's value.
* Hernandez had a 5.44 ERA in 2009, but that undersells his worth. Most pitchers with ERAs in the 5.00s are steadily sub-ordinary; Hernandez, though, tends to have quality starts for two or three outings, then getting shelled in the fourth. For teams that don't mind the occasional stinker, this is a good trade-off.
* Consider this: In 2009, Hernandez had 18 quality starts, 41st in baseball. He had one less than John Lannan (3.88 ERA), and had the same number as Scott Feldman (4.08), Kevin Millwood (3.67) and Ross Ohlendorf (3.92).
* (Strange stat, I know. And it hardly makes a case for excellence. But it does aptly describe Livo's odd value.) Last season, Hernandez and Carl Pavano were the only two pitchers in baseball with 16+ quality starts and ERAs over 5.00
* And here's my favorite stat: Over the last 50 years (1959-2009), Livan Hernandez has the HIGHEST career ERA among pitchers with 200 or more quality starts. Livo, by the way, has 222. Here's the list.
Livan Hernandez - 4.45
Mike Moore - 4.39
Steve Trachsel - 4.39
Tim Wakefield - 4.33
John Burkett - 4.31
* A few other morning items that I'll probably expand on in my notebook. Jim Riggleman said today that he can envision Craig Stammen as a long reliever in the bullpen. Whether that change comes this year, who knows, but Riggleman said that Stammen is the only guy among contenders for the 4/5 rotation spots who might switch roles. Also, Riggleman said that Scott Olsen, if healthy, is a lock for the rotation.
* Cristian Guzman's wife is expecting a baby any day now, so the shortstop is not currently in camp. He was, however, in Viera earlier this week. Josh Willingham hasn't yet reported, because two nights ago his wife gave birth to Ryder Jon Willingham, 22 inches, an even eight pounds. Elijah Dukes (the other position player I hadn't spotted, as of yesterday) has indeed reported to camp.
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