How is it that a 6-foot-2, 245-lb.,36-year-old can be one of the game's most consistent starters? That is the question on everyone's mind as Livan Hernandez puts together yet another incredibly dependable season. Amazingly, Hernandez has started at least 30 games in each season dating to 1998.
Despite bouncing around the league having pitched for seven different clubs, Hernandez may be best known for his time with the Nationals/Expos franchise. For a team that has been anything but steady the past decade, Hernandez been a rock in the rotation eating tons of innings as well.
The man with the rubber arm is one of those unique baseball characters, one that cannot be understood, just accepted. His nonchalant demeanor on the mound is especially amusing because of his rather large stature. On most days, it looks like he just rolled out of bed five minutes before taking the mound.
Even with a so-so 69-70 record for the franchise, Hernandez has earned my trust in big-time situations. If there's one National on the staff that I want to have the ball in a big game, it's Hernandez. He has plenty of postseason experience as well, having appeared in two World Series. Of course, like any pitcher, Hernandez has his bad days, but who wouldn't want a guy who's guaranteed to give you 30 starts and 150 innings a year along with slightly above-average stats?
Mr. Nationals' latest trick was when he put his arm through the ultimate test in what amounted to a doubleheader, at least pitch-wise. It's quite evident that Hernandez is his own pitching coach, defying every order from Steve McCatty. Any pitching coach would tell you that Hernandez is one of those hand-off guys who can handle themselves when the going get tough.
Of course, the Nationals don't have Hernandez in their sights for their future plans, with loads of young pitching talent inching their way closer to the show, but you can bet Davey Johnson is relieved knowing that he can count on at least one of his starters to be ready every fifth day.
It's hard not to admire what Hernandez has accomplished and what he continues to do. How much he has left in the tank is a mystery, but I'd imagine he's far from done yet.
Ted Youngling blogs about the Nationals for The Nats Blog, and offers his viewpoints as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.