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Livan Hernandez's unique season rolls on

Morning roundup

The statistical cocktail brewed up by Livan Hernandez this year is becoming more and more remarkable all the time. Last night, he allowed nine hits and walked two and struck out one. Of course, then, he surrendered two earned runs in seven innings and gave the Nationals an excellent chance to win. (They didn't.)

Hernandez's results, independent of his team's, were pretty typical of his season. He puts many runners on base. He doesn't strike out many batters. The scoreboard operator stays idle.

For someone who gives up as many hits as Hernandez without a strong ratio of strikeouts to walks, his lack of runs allowed is staggering. Really, it defies modern baseball. Hernandez has a 3.06 ERA, a 1.68 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a .256 batting average against. No pitcher has finished a season with an ERA that low despite an average against that high and a ratio that low since 1985.

Much of his success is owed to a lack of home runs allowed. He's given up just .56 long balls per nine innings this year, which ranks in the top 20. "The most important," Hernandez said, "is not to make too many mistakes."

Advanced stats would argue Hernandez's luck is hiding mediocrity. His xFIP is 4.65, which places him outside the top starters in the majors this year. The dearth of home runs, the reasoning goes, owes to loads of fly balls that could have been home runs but weren't.

That's something for the Nationals' front office to weigh in the offseason. In the clubhouse and in the stands, they appreciate Hernandez and what's he's done this year in his own unique way.

"I feel good," Hernandez said. "In spring training, I said I want to go back to pitch the same I did two or three years ago. I feel very good. When I go every five days, I try to give the team a chance to win. I'm very happy with the work. I know my teammates are really happy with the work I do this year. They tell me. I feel really good when they say something like that."

FROM THE POST

Jason Heyward's walk-off single handed the Nationals a 3-2 loss to the Braves as Ryan Zimmerman was ejected for the first time.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Louisville 5, Syracuse 3: Matt Chico allowed no earned runs in six innings on six hits and no walks, striking out five. Josh Wilkie allowed no earned runs in two innings and struck out five.

Harrisburg 10, Erie 1: Chris Marrero went 4 for 5 with a home run. Devin Ivany went 3 for 4 with two doubles. Jesus Valdez went 2 for 5 with a home run. Tom Milone allowed one earned run in 6 2/3 innings on seven while striking out 13 and walking none.

Potomac 9, Kinston 1: Tyler Moore went 2 for 3 with a home run and five RBI. Trevor Holder allowed one earned run in 5 2/3 innings on three hits and three walks, striking out five.

Hagerstown was off.

Lowell 4, Vermont 3: David Freitas went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

Ryan Zimmerman is the one player to pick if you're starting a franchise, Dave Cameron writes.

This one was frustrating, Ben Goessling says.

By Adam Kilgore  |  August 19, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
 
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Next: Today's lineup

Comments

Just stirring the pot. I was disappointed that Dunn was not traded for Dan Hudson. Despite his power Dunn is very streaky and can go many games without producing much offense. He is also a liability defensively, moreso than the stats indicate. I realize my stance is not popular on this blog, or with Boz, but one has to like how well Hudson has pitched for Arizonia. Has gone seven or more innings in last four or five games. LH is our only pitcher that seems to ever reach this far into the game. Only Straz and Zimm are better pitchers in the Nats entire organization, not counting this years draft. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but I'm sure I'm close.

Posted by: jcampbell1 | August 19, 2010 7:22 AM | Report abuse

I think Livan may be the most enjoyable pitcher to watch I've ever seen. It's like he's from another planet.

Posted by: markfromark | August 19, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Not directed solely at Adam, but can we stop saying "walk-off" so much? Especially for a single? Somehow the game managed to exist, as did clear reporting of said game, for over 100 years without that term in every highlight package and article.

/curmudgeon

Posted by: Kev29 | August 19, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

jcampbell1, not necessarily agreeing with you but good info on Hudson. I wonder though how many 7-inning starts he would have with Rigs as his manager. Rigs seems to set 6 innings as his bar; some of our pitchers seem to have internalized this, resulting in a lot of efforts of 5.1 and 5.2 innings. If getting through 6 is like climbing Mt. Everest, how can you ask anybody (unless they're a freak of nature like Livo) to go farther? Wonder how McCatty is with all of this: he pitched 27 CGs for A's in 1980-81. We know other pitchers of that era like Sutton and Palmer think starters could go deeper in games with different preparation and mindset.
Why does this matter in age of relief specialists? It wouldn't if we had 6 or 7 first-rate relievers, or if we blew enough games wide open that we could use second-tier relievers to mop up. Obviously, neither situation applies to us.
BTW, good luck in Oakland this year.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | August 19, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

jc, if you're gonna stir the pot, you might try using a spoon (*Tim* Hudson) rather than a ladle (Dan??). ;-)

markfrommark, agree re. Livo. After he got out of one of his jams last night, I turned to my hubby and said "I love watching Livo."

Also, I'd like to offer my congrats to the Nieves family on their new addition (as announced in the wee hours by Ben Goessling over on the MASN site).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 19, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Also, I agree re. pitchers not going deep, but I'd also opine that, if the skipper yanks them earlier, they don't get a chance to demonstrate that they can do it. imo, both Olsen and Lannan are capable of going deeper when they're on.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 19, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and it kinda stinks that Livo is making what he is for the season in comparison to, say, Marquis (who no doubt is not trying to pitch poorly but...dang).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 19, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

I have to take issue with the notion that Livan is the most enjoyable pitcher to watch. Especially after a two-hour rain delay, or when it's over 90 degrees. He takes forever. But, that said, he deserves to be re-signed and keep his spot in the rotation until 5 other guys prove you can count on them to do better over the course of the long season. They way Livan has pitched this year, his record should be more like 15-6. And, has anyone noticed? Livan seems to have the "B" team of relivers (Clippard, etc.) follow him, while they try to protect Strasburg's leads with the "A" team led by Storen.

Posted by: fluffy4 | August 19, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-in lieu of my "Nats are gonna be Yankees of the NL" post (still too p.o'd by our recent play to put down my Pollyanna-ish
take on the future....) I bring your attention to this post at Fangraphs concerning Gentleman Zimm (ejection notwithstanding!):
http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/the-franchise-player/
Read it, Gang, please! A national baseball writer taking him over everyone else to start a franchise! Cool!
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | August 19, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

fluffy: of course, whether or not one enjoys watching a given player is subjective. I enjoy watching Livo. If you don't happen to do so, I don't take issue with it. It's your personal preference.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 19, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

jcampbell, you raise a good point but two things to consider: do we know for sure Hudson would have been in that trade and how do you replace Dunn's bat, this year and in the future? There's no lefty power coming along, except for Burgess, who's a year away at least.
As for the quick hook argument, there's a trust factor involved. They trust Livo and Lannan, but they don't trust Olsen or Marquis, right now (of course, he'd have to pitch well enough to deserve to stay in there).
Finally, I'd be McCatty would be cautious about keeping guys in there. All of those complete games in Oakland (courtesy of Billy Martin) shortened his career and destroyed Mike Norris'. I doubt he'd want to do the same to somebody else.

Posted by: baltova1 | August 19, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Good point re. McCatty's background, baltova.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 19, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Great discussion here of Zim's ejection on last night's thread. My $0.02: not defending his ejection by rookie umpire by any means, but Dibs and others of us ask, how can ump read Zim's mind? Partial answer is that he can by observing Zim's start to 1B on the 3-1 pitch. My impression is that Zim does that move on ball 3 more than anybody else on the club (Willingham and Big Country, e.g.). Why? They're frequently borderline pitches, sometimes strikes (like last night, based on replay). Zim's feint to 1B does give the ump insight into Zim's thoughts about that pitch (reading his mind) and in any case might rub the ump the wrong way, setting up the ejection after strike 3.
Just don't see how this little move of his helps him or the club in any way. I know we have (had) some umps or ex-umps on this site; what do they say?

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | August 19, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

fluffy: McLaren violated "the Clippard rules" last night - Never, Ever, bring Clippard into a game with men on.

Posted by: BinM | August 19, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

"Not directed solely at Adam, but can we stop saying "walk-off" so much? Especially for a single? Somehow the game managed to exist, as did clear reporting of said game, for over 100 years without that term in every highlight package and article."

Fine. You want clear reporting, you say? Then how about coming up with another word that encompasses the meaning of walk-off, which when used to modify an event (single, double, triple, homer, walk, balk, sacrifice fly, hit by pitch, error, whatever) means that the occurrence of said event immediately scored the winning run and ended the game without the need to play the final inning through to its full three outs. Walk-off [whatever] says all that, and nothing more, completely and unambiguosly in just two words. That's pretty clear reporting, if you ask me. It's kind of surprising actually that it took baseball as long as it did to come up with the term.

Posted by: FeelWood | August 19, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Love to have Tim Hudson as well natsfan. Baltova, I'm pretty certain we could have had Dan Hudson or Jackson for that matter. And Dunns home runs are valuable when he gets them. For example, since he hit two in one game singlehandedly winning it, he's barely had a hit of any kind since stranding runners over and over again. That seems to happen a lot with Dunn. Also there is the free agent market with a few good first basemen available, including Dunn.

Posted by: jcampbell1 | August 19, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

baltova1, yes, McCatty was part of the A's experiment with stretching pitchers out. My question was, has he ever addressed his experience in Oakland and how has it affected his approach as Nats' pitching coach? Our speculation may be interesting but I'd like to hear it from the horse's mouth.

BTW, McCatty's career high in innings was 221 in 1980--the same year Norris threw 280. 221 doesn't sound like such an outrageous amount. Of course, there's also that every fourth day vs. every fifth day issue.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | August 19, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Hagerstown was rained out and has a doubleheader today FWIW.

@Zendo good look at the Fangraphs article
I'll check it out.

Posted by: souldrummer | August 19, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

jc, my bad re. Tim vs. Dan.

cap, I remembered seeing something with McCatty in that regard. Some quick Googling turned up this:

http://nats320.blogspot.com/2010/06/steve-mccattys-thoughts-on-nolan-ryans.html

I think I may have seen a newspaper piece at one point as well, but not 100 percent sure on that.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 19, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and is that brushback pic of RZ saying (or having just said) farking BS? :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 19, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

@FeelWood:
How about "game-ending" rather than "walk-off"? Or is "game-ending" one too many syllables for you?

Posted by: bertbkatz | August 19, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

My problem with the Zim ejection is if he slams them down, walks away and keeps his back to the umpire what is the harm with letting him vent. There is no reason an umpire should inject himself into the fabric of the game when it is not warrented. Just because Zim thinks he made a horrid call doesn't gibe the ump license to boot him. If I were Riggs I would have made sure the ump booted me too and would have done whatever it took to show him up.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | August 19, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I saw a show one time (on MLB Network, if memory serves) where umps were talking about the "magic words" for ejection. One made the point that, if a player is something to the effect of "that's effed up," they were okay, but if it was more like "you're effed up," it was buh-bye time. I would opine that an ump might interpret "effin BS" as directed at him, whereas a simple "eff" might be interpreted as disappointment in one's own performance.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 19, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

is = says

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 19, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

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