For Nationals starters, its Livan Hernandez and the rest
At this time last spring, all 30 teams had decided Livan Hernandez was not worth a major league contract. He was still waiting by the phone in late February, when the Nationals decided to take a shot. Hernandez agreed to a minor league deal.
One year later, Manager Jim Riggleman said today, Hernandez is the surest thing in the Nationals' starting rotation. After Hernandez led qualifying Nationals starters in wins (10), innings (212 2/3), ERA (3.66) and strikeouts (114) in 2010, Riggleman all but proclaimed Hernandez the team's 2011 opening day starter.
"Unless something unforeseen happens, Livan has earned it," Riggleman said this afternoon after making his first appearance in Viera. "Not only has he had a good year, but he's also a composed, veteran guy. The whole atmosphere of opening day, all the excitement and that, I think he's able to slow the game down and pitch in an Opening Day situation and not be overwhelmed by it. He would likely be our first guy."
Though the rest of the Nationals rotation is not quite as settled, it seems a given that John Lannan, Jordan Zimmerman and Jason Marquis will take three other places in the rotation and Tom Gorzelanny will likely claim the fifth.
While Hernandez is, for now, the clear opening day choice, the Nationals do not possess a true No. 1 starter, the kind of pitcher General Manager Mike Rizzo hoped to acquire this offseason. Riggleman, though, feels an improved defense, a strong bullpen and starting pitching depth will make up for their lack of an ace.
"We'll just have to do it a different way," Riggleman said. "We feel like, I think we've got a lot of guys who are kind of like No. 3 starters. That's OK, because there's a lot of them. Everybody would like to have a No. 1 starter, a No. 2 starter. But I guess what I'm saying is, the glass is half full. There's enough depth in our starters."
At least "seven or eight" starters will vie for spots in the rotation, Riggleman said, and those surely include Ross Detwiler and Yunesky Maya. At some point in the year, the Nationals will need another starter to replace Zimmermann.
Zimmermann is entering his first full season following Tommy John surgery, and his highest innings total as a professional is 134, all of which came in the minors in 2008. The Nationals, then, will restrict Zimmermann to a set number of innings this year, and they will be careful not to push him past seven innings in one start.
"I would say, I really want to talk with [pitching coach] Steve McCatty and [pitching coordinator] Spin Williams before I put a hard-and-fast number on it," Riggleman said. "But there will be a number there. There will be something we won't exceed. But whether it's 150 or 175 or something, we don't know yet."
| February 15, 2011; 3:55 PM ET
Save & Share: Previous: Ryan Zimmerman clears the air on Adam Dunn, talks Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper
Next: Jim Riggleman wants the top of the Nationals order on the offensive
Posted by: erocks33 | February 15, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | February 15, 2011 4:33 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: BrokenClipboard | February 15, 2011 4:38 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Stu27 | February 15, 2011 4:44 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: brianbu | February 15, 2011 5:44 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: P00PY__MCP00P | February 15, 2011 5:50 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: dfh21 | February 15, 2011 6:16 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: BinM | February 15, 2011 7:59 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: JohnRDC | February 15, 2011 11:08 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jksesq1 | February 16, 2011 6:17 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Pete433 | February 16, 2011 6:32 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: skinfan2k | February 16, 2011 6:59 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: shanks1 | February 16, 2011 7:58 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: FergusonFoont | February 16, 2011 9:21 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: jquyle1 | February 19, 2011 7:17 PM | Report abuse