Tuesday, March 8, 2011

25 in 25: Livan Hernandez (#3)

In 23 days, all the Nationals diehards will be preparing to head to Nationals Park on Opening Day. Until then, we're going to predict the 25 man roster. With one catch. We're going to do it one day at a time. This way, we can provide more in depth thoughts on who we think is going to make the roster, why we think so, and what to expect from them in 2011. On the morning of Opening Day, we'll post the real 25-man compared with what we predicted.

Now it's time to talk about the workhorse.

Why?: It seems we've been here time and time again with Livo. DC baseball fans remember nostalgically when Livan Hernandez stepped onto the mound for the Nats in 2005 at RFK Stadium, ending the 34 year drought of a baseball-free DC. In 2011, he has the chance to do it all over again.

Nats Manager Jim Riggleman has already said Livo will be the Opening Day starter, barring some crazy circumstances. What more proof do we need in order to put the veteran starter this high on our list? Doesn't hurt that some of that 2005 nostalgia might have trickled over into this spring for us...

What to Expect?: Once again, more of the same. Livan is who we think he is (Thanks Denny Green). Since 1998, Livo has only had 3 seasons that he hasn't thrown over 200 innings. Those 3 seasons were all years he spent with multiple teams. He's never thrown less than 180 innings in a full season. Ever. As in his entire career. Expect more of this from the 36-ish year old Livan.

He might not throw 95, or 90, or even 85 most of the time. But his bunny ear curveball, remarkable difference in pitch speed, and ability to locate of every one of his pitches makes him the true veteran and ultimate professional on the staff. He's essentially become a secondary pitching coach that can still put in 200 innings. Every team could be so lucky.

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