This season started out with about the same story: lots of innings eaten and an impressive ERA. But after his June 15 complete game shutout of the St. Louis Cardinals, Livan's efficiency decreased significantly. His ERA since that game is 5.74, opponents are hitting a high .345 against him, and has an astronomical .886 OPS. In the last 9 games, he only pitched 6 or more innings in a start 4 times. Not exactly what you want to see from your "innings eater" on the ball club. He's only thrown 62% strikes as well.
The main reason for Livan's pending doom with the Nats organization has little to do with his steady decline this season, though. It has more to do with the slew of incredible pitching talent that is ready to break though to the majors. Trading Jason Marquis before the deadline was the first step toward a younger Nationals pitching rotation.
With Stephen Strasburg's pending start on Opening Day 2012, plus the emerging dominance of Jordan Zimmermann and John Lannan (I know, I can't believe I just wrote that either), there are just two rotation spots left to fill with emerging talent. Ross Detwiler looks to be out of the contest, as he is unable to get through a lineup more than twice. He'll end up traded or in the bullpen. But Brad Peacock and Tom Milone provide the most hope for the Nationals pitching future.
Peacock was dominant in Double-A Harrisburg to start the season, and since being promoted to Triple-A Syracuse, he's certainly put up pretty good numbers. Milone has been simply dominant in Syracuse all season, putting up an 8-6 record, a 3.62 ERA, and an astounding 12.00 SO/BB ratio. He struck out 120 batters this year and walked only 10. That's incredible.
We're not convinced that both Peacock and Milone will make the rotation to start the 2012 season, but we are sure that they will both be September call ups this season. Mike Rizzo will still set out on his annual goal to sign a "big name" pitcher to help his rotation, but one thing is for sure. Livan Hernandez won't be the guy to make that rotation.