Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Appreciation Day

The Washington National’s future is bright. The number of young stars on the rise in the organization can only be quantified if, you know, you took off your shoes and the shoes of everyone you know and love. But, I think as we start to (hopefully) enter the period of prolonged relevancy, it’s important to think about the bridges from 2005 to 2011. Now Former Nats Greats are awesome, and no one enjoys their ridiculous tales more than I, but just for this post, I want to give credit to a current Nats great and player whose contributions will become more and more significant over time. Livan Hernandez.

Now, Zim will be the first Nationals Hall of Famer, maybe even followed by Strasburg and Harper. But if the Nationals start retiring numbers, 61 is the very first one going up on the wall. Since 2005 no one has done more for the Nats on the field than Livo. Over 1300 innings in just less than 200 starts, Livan has been the workhorse of the franchise.

2005. The Nats, in their very first year in DC, are surprise contenders. Livan throws the first pitch in Nationals history, goes 15-10, leads the league in innings pitched and games started and is an All-star. 2006. Livan is traded for future stars Garrett Mock and Matt Chico. Ok, not so much future stars, but Chico did a yeoman’s job in his tenure with the team, doing, frankly, much more than was asked of him and eating innings, while Mock…ate up a spot on the 40 man roster for the last 5 years.

2009. The return. After being unceremoniously cutting ties with the Mets, Livan returns to DC. He shows enough that the Nats offer him a minor league deal for 2010. 2010. Um, about that minor league deal…thanks for throwing 211 innings with an ERA under 4. Good for a WAR of 3.0, showing the rest of Major League Baseball he may not be done. But instead of testing the free agent market, this happens: “Hey Mike, 1 mil for next year?” “Sounds good, see you in 2011.”

2011. Strasburg is recovering, Zimmermann is on an innings limit. Marquis traded. Livan is there taking the ball every fifth day. 29 starts, 175 innings, his best K/9 rate since 2006, and enough Bugs Bunny curve balls to strike out Elmer Fudd 100 times. And now, with the youth movement taking over, Livan has taken on a role as mentor.

2012. Livan wants to play. He knows he can still play. He has said publicly that he is returning to Washington in whatever roll he can have, or retiring. Imagine Strasburg throwing 99 MPH for 7 innings and Livan coming in for the 8th throwing 59 MPH curve balls.

Whatever the future holds for Livo and the Nats, he has been a great pitcher, mentor and ambassador for the Nationals. He leads the Nationals all-time in 11 pitching statistics, and the ones Stephen Strasburg doesn’t break, he may hold for a very long time. I’ve been a Nats fan since their arrival and one thing can be said about Livo that can’t be said for any other pitcher. I was never nervous when it was his start. Think about it. Nats fans live on antacid from April to October, but every 5th day, it was Livo, and a chance to win…

Favorite memory about Livo…Please share!!

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