Livo has emerged as the unlikely star of the staff
Back in April, Livan Hernández stood on the mound with a bright big smile, chomping his gum just as effortlessly as he was pitching. He never blew a bubble but he constantly made it clear that he had it in his mouth like a kid showing his parents. Troy Tulowitzki stood at the plate with a 1-2 count. It might as well have been school because he was about to learn firsthand how Einstein’s theory of relativity works. He just saw two 85 mph fastballs–yes, that’s 85 mph–and an 81 mph slider.
Livo reached into his bag of tricks for the fourth pitch and threw a slow looping curveball, a pitch as devastating as his smile is infectious. Tulo couldn’t lay off of it. He swung so far in front of the ball he could have put his bat back on his shoulder and swung again.
All Tulo could do was laugh as he walked backed to the dugout. 85 mph never seemed so fast and 66 mph never seemed so slow. Livan just smiled ear to ear, looked at Tulo and slowly walked to the dugout chomping him gum as if to say, “How could you ever doubt me?”
That has been the epitome of Livo the entire 2010 season–the gum-chomping, curveball crawling hurler has been the Nationals most consistent pitcher this season by just being his normal, laidback self with a fastball that jogs to the plate at 84 mph and a curveball that walks. In his 23 starts, Livo has allowed three earned runs or less in 18 of them. In those 18 games he is 8-4 with a 1.85 ERA (121.2 IP/ 25 ER) with a .232 BAA. Not a bad stat line for a pitcher who wasn’t even on the roster when Spring Training started.
“I try to stay on the mound the right way, the way I am in life,” Hernandez said. “Because I like to be happy and laughing and my family appreciates that. I’m a very serious guy and take everything seriously, but at the same time, I like to enjoy baseball. When I go on the mound, I try to be relaxed and enjoy the game. Because if I take it too seriously, too intense, it’s not me. I try to play the game the way I am in life.”
He hasn’t missed a start this season and he leads the Nats in ERA (3.03), innings pitched (151.1), strikeouts (80) and wins (tied with Tyler Clippard with 8).
“I don’t know how I’m going to feel one day when I miss one start,” Hernandez said. “Maybe I will go crazy. Maybe I will have to go to the hospital or something.”
Livo takes the mound tonight trying to stop the Nats four game skid. There is a good chance he will, if not, you can still expect to see him smile.
1. Hanley Ramirez – SS
2. Logan Morrison – LF
3. Gaby Sanchez – 1B
4. Dan Uggla – 2B
5. Cody Ross – CF
6. Mike Stanton – RF
7. Donnie Murphy – 3B
8. Brett Hayes – C
9. Ricky Nolasco – SP (12-8, 4.57 ERA)
1. Roger Bernadina – CF
2. Ian Desmond – SS
3. Adam Dunn – 1B
4. Ryan Zimmerman – 3B
5. Michael Morse – RF
6. Adam Kennedy – 2B
7. Ivan Rodriguez – C
8. Willie Harris – LF
9. Livan Hernandez – SP (8-7, 3.03 ERA)