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Livan Hernandez hits 200 innings

Back at the start of spring training, when Livan Hernandez was still a pitcher without a team, he believed he would throw 200 innings this season. The league disagreed; not one of 30 teams offered him a major league contract. Hernandez didn't care. "I do it every year," Hernandez said. "Why not this year?"

When Hernandez walked into the Nationals dugout after the first inning this afternoon, he had proved himself right, had again reached one the benchmarks he built his career on. Hernandez surpassed 200 innings for the 10th time in his career and for the first time since 2007.

"I feel really happy," Hernandez said. "Two-hundred innings is not easy. It's like a hitter hitting 30 home runs."

Hernandez hit the milestone while allowing two runs in six-plus innings on seven hits and two walks. He lowered his ERA to 3.73 for the year with one start remaining, again validated his belief he should never have had to sign a minor league deal back in late February.

The milestone added to Hernandez's reputation as one of the most durable pitchers of his generation. He's now pitched 2,999 2/3 innings in his career, more than every active pitcher except Jamie Moyer, Tim Wakefield and Andy Pettitte. He threw more innings in the first decade of the 2000s than any other pitcher. Hernandez is the only active pitcher to start at least 30 games and pitch at 180 innings for the last 13 consecutive years.

Twenty-seven starting pitchers have thrown 200 innings this year, and about 40 could reach that mark by the end of season. Hernandez, 35, will be the oldest. (Chris Carpenter was born two months after him, and Tim Hudson was born three months after that.)

"When you start the game, you think, 'Finish,' " Hernandez said. "That is the way you can be consistent in this game. If you don't think that like, I think you're wrong. This is my philosophy. I go on the mound to try to do that all the time. It's happened a lot in my career."

To keep himself able to throw so many innings, Hernandez has a unique routine. He throws 100 pitches in the bullpen two days after his start; the standard number is about half of that.

"If you throw more, I think it's better for your arm," Hernandez said. "You throw 40 pitches in the bullpen, your next start, you're going to throw 100 pitches in the game. At 70, you feel a little tired."

By Adam Kilgore  | September 26, 2010; 6:11 PM ET
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Livan Hernandez has a strong and resilient arm. And he throws more than twice as many pitches in bullpen sessions than all our other pitchers who are unable to pitch anywhere near the innings Livo pitches.

Nolan Ryan would be smiling and nodding if he read this.

Posted by: Sunderland | September 26, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Atta boy, Livo! Hope you had some nice incentives in your contract.

All in all, it was a fun, but chilly, day at the park today. I thought the team did a nice job with the tribute to Cox before the game.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 26, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

67 wins ... just 3 more to 70 but the Phillies and Mets stand in the way.

Clearly Espinosa brings the kind of energy this team got from Morgan last year ... and rarely at all this year.

Posted by: periculum | September 26, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

I don't know BinM,

They did sign Guzman to a pretty long and expensive contract. Didn't they? They were going to do that with Texiera and with Chapman ...

No, I believe Rizzo has his own plan. Its been said he has depth chart rosters going out as far as 2013-2014. He wants to leverage his draft picks and limit the number of FA's. In three short years you might see Harper, Bloxom (perhaps Tyler Moore but I think he gets traded as does Marerro.), Perez, Ramirez, Hood, Kobernus, Hague, etc. Next year Lombardozzi.

He probably doesn't want to end up "stuck" as they were with Guzman for so long ...

The rule I see is this: If a guy has the right potential in Rizzo's plus his staff's eyes and is well enough under 30 then a greater than 2 year contract is what they want to keep the player under team control.

If the player is close to or over 30 then its a 2 year contract at most. Look how long they waited to let Livo come to spring training and as pointed out with a minor league contract. Batista minor league contract. They didn't release Olsen in ST and save the 2 million or so because a.) he is only 26. b.) He is a left handed starting pitcher with a 200 inning season behind him.

Look at the age first then quibble about the number of years they sign them for.

Posted by: periculum | September 26, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm proud to be a long time fan and supporter of Livan. I wonder if there is any chance he could get be given 1/3 of an inning Wednesday so the home team can cheer 3000. I'd love to cheer 3000 in person.

Posted by: natbiscuits | September 26, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

"When you start the game, you think, 'Finish,' " Hernandez said.

The game would be better off if more pitchers thought that way. A pitcher who starts the game thinking he only has to go five, then hand off to the middle reliever, is less of a competitor.

Congratulations, Livan!

Posted by: KSVA | September 26, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

This is the basis of Livanismo. He is our legendary master.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 26, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Viva Livo!

Posted by: SuzNats | September 26, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

RE: Livo

I pity the Nats fan who doesn't realize & enjoy that we have a historic talent on our team.
Because your Nat fandom is missing a basic baseball-lovin' building block!

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | September 26, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

I love watching Livo. He loves what he's doing, has a good time out there. Because of his body shape (ahhh, a man after my own heart) his gracefulness on the field continues to surprise.
He did fail to get a bunt down today, but oh well. I'm tickled they have him back.

Posted by: utec | September 26, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Me, too, utec. Also, Livo looks darned good for his age. I mean, I always suspected he might be a tad bit older than is stated in his bio, but 70? He must have found the fountain of youth in Miami. What? Oh. Never mind...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 26, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

@1stBaseCoach: What's so cool about Livo (aside from everything, really) is that his greatest accomplishment have come in the distant past on different teams... but he still seems like 100% Nats. For a franchise that doesn't have much history, that's a pretty good asset.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | September 26, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Hope they resign him in the offseason. I'm sure the bullpen will really appreciate the decrease in work every 5th day.

Posted by: futbolclif | September 27, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

They already have re-signed him for next season.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | September 27, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

If the player is close to or over 30 then its a 2 year contract at most. Posted by: periculum | September 26, 2010 7:33 PM

That's a good justification for the Nats' lowest budgets. If it takes 6 years of MLB playing time for a player to get to free agency, most free agents are "close to or over 30." Et voila! The good ones will want at least three or four years. The best ones will get even more. This means the Nats take what's left; namely the less talented and, most importantly, cheaper free agents who will take what they can get. The same is true for players the Nats accept in trades.

Livan is a wonderful role model. He was cut by the Mets after a lousy few months of a season, and who else wanted him? The Nats took a virtually free chance on Livan, and what a success Livan has been as the team ace. If the Nats could only find a dozen-and-a-half rejects as good as Livan, we would definitely be talking about how the Nats are achieving the team goal of respectability.

Of course, Livan is 35. However, the Nats' worry over age only applies to those players who make decent salaries and are therefore destructive to the Nats' short-term profit picture. If you are 35 and cheap, then no problem. If you are 30 and fairly expensive, then let's study that age issue very closely until time runs out and the player goes.

Posted by: EdDC | September 27, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Funny, a couple of Nats wins and most of the negative posters go away, just waiting for another loss to remind us how bad we are.

If only we could play the Marlins as well as we play the Bravos we might be on to something! Watching the game yesterday I kept waiting for the roof to collapse on us, amazed it never did.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | September 27, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

What ever the Nats are paying Livan, it isn't enough! It is a joy to watch him work and a lesson to all young hurlers.

Go Livan go!

Posted by: JAMNEW | September 27, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

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