Rounding Out The Rotation
The Nationals officially signed veteran right-handed pitcher Dan Haren to a one-year contract on Friday, after he passed his physical. Haren brings a solid presence and track record to the Washington rotation, giving the Nationals the fifth starter they were looking for heading into the Winter Meetings. But to call the 32 year-old Haren a “fifth starter” does not do his resume justice.
The right-hander eclipsed 216 innings in seven straight seasons prior to 2012, and carries a 119-97 career record with a 3.66 ERA. The three-time All-Star has won at least twelve games in each of his eight full seasons as a Major Leaguer, and has terrific peripheral numbers, carrying a career strikeout-to-walk rate of 4.02, averaging 189 K’s per season over that span.
Haren throws a two-seam and four-seam fastball, as well as a cutter, a splitter, a spike curveball and a changeup. His ability to mix speeds with accuracy (as evidenced by his low walk rate) helps keep hitters off-balance and makes him a highly unpredictable pitcher.
The Pepperdine product was originally selected in the second round of the 2001 First-year Player Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. After breaking in with St. Louis, Haren was traded as part of the Mark Mulder deal to Oakland, where he came into his own as the ace of the Athletics staff from 2005-07. He was dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks prior to the ’08 season as part of a blockbuster trade that included both Carlos Gonzalez and Brett Anderson. He was then dealt mid-season in 2010 to the Los Angeles Angels, with whom he pitched through the 2012 season.
It has been a while since Haren has been to the postseason (2006 with the A’s), but he has had success, going 2-0 with a 3.26 ERA (7 ER/19.1 IP) in seven career playoff appearances (two starts). Regardless, his wealth of regular season experience brings exactly what the Nationals were looking for in their final addition to the rotation entering the offseason.
The Nationals also announced on Monday that they have come to terms one a one-year Major League deal with pitcher Zach Duke. Duke started the 2012 season on a Minor League contract with Triple-A Syracuse, where he opened eyes with a 15-5 record and 3.51 ERA in 26 starts. That solid season earned the lefty a September call-up and he was added to the 40-man roster for the stretch run.
Duke pitched very well in his limited duties, going 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA (2 ER/13.2 IP), striking out 10 while walking four over eight relief appearances. He gives the Nationals a solid long relief option out of the ‘pen, and has the starting experience to possibly compete for a job in the rotation, or at the very least fill in as a spot starter. The 29 year-old was an All-Star with the Pirates back in 2009 and has twice notched double-digit win totals at the Major League level.