Livan Hernandez is Back

41405-380 opening night c.jpgLivan Hernandez is back. The person who threw out both the first pitch in the history of the Nationals (April 4, 2005 at Philadelphia) and the first pitch in Washington, DC (April 14, 2005 vs. Arizona) after 33 summers without Big League baseball is a member of the Washington Nationals again.


Following last night’s 15-6 win at Wrigley Field, the Nationals signed free agent right-handed pitcher Livan Hernandez and optioned right-handed pitcher Collin Balester to Syracuse after going 1-4 with a 6.82 ERA in seven starts for the Nationals this season.


“We are running out of innings with some of our young guys, and I refuse to push them past their limits,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “Livan was available, and I talked about him with our player personnel people. He is a good guy in the clubhouse. He has some friends here on the ballclub. He is nothing but a workhorse and a reliable arm to get some innings and get us through the rest of the season.”


hernandez c.jpgHernandez is an inning-eater that pitches to contact and lets his defense make plays. He won’t overpower anyone with his mid-80’s fastball but changes speeds well and throws a curveball that crawls to the plate. The Nats are just happy they don’t have to face him again. Three of his top pitching performances of the year have been against the Nats. In three games against the Nats, he went 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA (9ER/ 23.0 INN) with 13 strikeouts and seven walks.


Hernandez, 34, went 24-18 with a 4.49 ERA in 59 starts with the Nats during the 2005 and ’06 seasons. Including his days with the Expos, Hernandez went 50-43 with a 3.89 ERA in 127 starts for the Nationals/Expos franchise from 2003-06. Since being dealt to the Diamondbacks on August 7, 2006, Hernandez has pitched for Arizona, Minnesota, Colorado and New York (NL).


“His locker is going to be next to mine,” said Pitcher Garrett Mock, who the Nationals obtained when they traded Hernandez to Arizona in 2006. “I think Livan is an unbelievable pitcher. He has [a World Series] MVP Award. He seems to perform. It’s going to be a pleasure to watch the guy up close, watch him work and attack hitters. I’m going to pick his brain a little bit. It’s exciting.”


He will make his first start on Wednesday at Chicago (NL), while J.D. Martin (2-3, 4.76) will start Thursday’s series finale at Wrigley Field.


With 24 victories, Hernandez remains the winningest pitcher in the five-year history of the Nationals (2005-present), and he remains the leader in innings pitched (393.0). Hernandez’s 59 starts for the Nationals rank second behind John Lannan’s 63, and his 236 strikeouts rank third.


In 2005, he was the first National to participate in an All-Star Game.


Hernandez joins with the Nationals after going 7-8 with a 5.47 ERA in 23 starts for the Mets this season. He is 154-147 with a 4.43 ERA in 405 games (404 starts) spanning 14 Big League seasons. He is the only current Big League pitcher to have started at least 30 games 11 straight seasons. He needs seven more starting assignments to extend this streak to 12.


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