It is fitting that Livan Hernandez returned the Washington Nationals to winning baseball. No pitcher better represents the spirit of this team. Even when he's been with other clubs Livo has remained close to the heart of Nats fans - a feeling that's clearly mutual. We should savor every inning, because it's unlikely that we'll get to enjoy a pitcher quite like Hernandez again.
If you didn't get a chance to see today's performance, you missed out on the Nationals' most complete game of the season. The bats were working up and down the lineup, but Livan's complete game, 4-hit shutout was the story. Working off his standard 85 mph fastball, changeup and ridiculous 63 mph curve, Hernandez kept the Brewers off-balance all day without breaking a sweat. This performance follows on the heels of seven shutout innings against the Mets last week in Queens. 16 shutout innings by a starter to start the season is, no surprise, a DC franchise record.
More than anything else, it's just a joy to watch Livo pitch. He never looks like he's laboring, he never pays undue attention to the guys on base and he's perfectly willing to throw a 3-2 strike and make the batter do something with it. Hernandez provides a blueprint to success for every other pitcher on Mike Rizzo's pitch-to-contact staff. Hit your spots, mix your pitches and trust your defense. It's even possible to strike a few guys out if you slip a fastball by them while they're looking for a 73 mph changeup.
Livan won't pitch seven scoreless every time out, and if he has a game where he's getting squeezed or missing his spots, he'll just as likely give up as many runs as innings pitched. Nevertheless, if you have a chance to take in a Nats game this season before Saint Stephen of Harrisburg makes his debut, I highly recommend aiming for a Livo start. You haven't lived until you've seen a big fat guy lobbing baseballs into home plate and making major league hitters look silly.