The best free agent pitching addition for 2010 occurred late in 2009. Pitcher Livan Hernandez was signed to a minor league contract on August 26, 2009 after the New York Mets gave up on him.
Hernandez went 2-4 last year in eight starts with the Nats. In the offseason, the Nats resigned him February 24.
Since Opening Day - and apologies to a certain phenom pitcher - Hernandez has been the Nats' most consistent starter. In his last 10 starts, Hernandez has gone 3-3 with an impressive 3.15 ERA. Overall in 2010, he is 8-7 with a 3.03 ERA in 23 starts.
Look at the numbers in his last five outings.
In four of those five starts, Livan has allowed only a single earned run, and those four starts where he allowed just four earned runs were all on the road. He has also gone at least seven innings in six of his last 10 starts.
In Livan's two starts on this road trip, he allowed just two runs in 14 1/3 innings.
He is one of the top success stories of 2010 for the Nats.
The team desperately needed a foundation for their starting five - Hernandez is the one.
They needed a mentor for their pitching staff. Livan is the one with World Series championship experience. He has helped Stephen Strasburg when he came to him for advice.
Need a pitcher who can start on four days rest - Hernandez is the one.
Of all the free agent pickups the Nats have made in the last year, Mike Rizzo gets big kudos for signing a veteran like Livan Hernandez. And really there is nothing stopping him from befuddling hitters for five or six more seasons. Hernandez's arm action doesn't tax him;l he can throw 120 pitches in a game.
He cruises onto the field and cruises off after getting three outs. He is on his own schedule. He pitches when he is ready and never hurries through an outing like some pitchers are taught these days.
His impact might also be felt when Cuban pitcher Yunesky Maya arrives in Washington. Maya is on the same Gulf Coast League Nationals team as Livan's half-brother Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez.
Strasburg, Zimmermann, Detwiler, Hernandez and Olsen/Wang/Maya(?). Not too shabby a starting five for 2011.