Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Thanks, Livan!

Thanks, Livan! Your crappy outing gave me a few extra hours of valuable time that would've otherwise been spent watching a crappy game! Man, what a stinker. At least you picked a day when the offense was as impotent as [&=senator_lastname].

I'm leaning more and more towards the Livan is toast theory. He just can't get anything by anyone. While I felt that he was let down by his defense in his start against the Rockies, not even the '75 Reds could've ran down the liners/bloops he was giving up tonight.

What's wrong with him? I think he's lost control of his fastball, for whatever reason. He's never been overpowering, but when he can't spot it where he wants it to go, he's leaving it over the plate far too often. I've also talked previously about his pitch speeds, and I think that that's still a problem. There's very little speed difference between his two-seam fastball (basically all he throws) and his slider. It's just that one floats from right to left, the other from left to right.

Worse, he's not getting any bite on that slider. It's not snapping off the way a slider should, almost like how a frisbee really curves hard over the last few feet when you snap off a good throw.

His breaking ball is rolling, so he's not really fooling them with location (there's no deception if it's not a late, hard break), and he's certainly not fooling them with speed. Everything sorta looks the same, and batters are just teeing off.

Sure, he's got that beautiful rolling curve that bloops in there, but he rarely is able to throw it for strikes on a consistent basis, and batters can ignore it. But he's also hung a bunch of them. (A hanging pitch is a breaking pitch that doesn't get the right amount of spin, dramatically lessening the break, making it a fat, slow, juicy watermelon of a pitch.)

BP fastball, hanging slider, curveball without control. 1,2,3. Add 'em up, and you've got a pitcher with an ERA of a bazillion.

If we take a deeper look at his stats, there are some trouble signs. (These are before tonight's start, so they'll certainly be worse)

Livan has always been a groundball pitcher, but he's giving up more and more flyballs this year. His walks per game are up slightly, and worse, his homer rate has skyrocketed. For his career he has allowed about .95 homers for every 9 innings pitched. This year, it's up to an ungodly 1.41 per 9. Accordingly, his slugging percentage allowed has jumped up to a scary .476! To put that in perspective, Ryan Zimmerman's slugging .477!

Their states have his line-drive rate at 21%, which is less than last year. Something seems fishy about that. If you look at it in the context of the entire team, he's right there with Ramon Ortiz and Tony Armas in terms of suckitude.

It seems to me that Livan's been getting blooped as much as he's been giving up liners. It seems that an awful lot of soft flares fall in, as well as regular ol' singles.

Can he get better? Your guess is as good as mine. His peripheral numbers (strikeouts, walks, homers) have never been good, and statheads have been declaring his imminent death since he was still with the Marlins. Perhaps it's all caught up to him.

He's under contract for next year, so the Nats better hope he finds it. His name has been floated as a possible trade candidate, but given his performance this year, as well as the large contract (which is very reasonable if he's pitching like he did last year, but wretched if he's like this) might make some team less willing to gamble -- or at the very least, unwilling to part with as premium a prospect.

Whether he stays with us or goes, he needs to pitch better than he did tonight.

  • Frank made a key strategic error early in the game. In the ill-fated second inning, before the complete offensive orgy, Frank had the infield in with runners on second and third. Predictably, the batter singled up the middle, scoring the run. There's no reason for the infield to be in at that point (especially with one with as little range as ours). It was so early in the game that trading a run for an out is worth the gamble, especially with the high-powered Sox bats looming in the hole.

    Had Frank kept the infield back where it belonged, the grounder up the middle is a likely out, and the Nats escape the inning with only a run or two allowed, not the six that scored.

  • Sometimes I don't understand Frank's reliever usage either. This is the second time that he's left Bray out for dead. Bray had a rough outing a few times back, but he's mostly been effective, and has been excellent against lefties -- something that Mike Stanton most definitely isn't. So, sure, make him throw 50 pitches. At least we have an off-day coming up.

  • The offense was, again, pathetic. Of course when you have Marlon Feckin' Anderson (.256/ .306/ .400) DHing and hitting cleanup!?!?!, what do you expect? The party line? "Robinson put Anderson there because he doesn't strike out a lot and gives the Nationals some speed."

    Well, Frank Robinson is a feckin' doddering idiot then.

    Meanwhile, Daryle Ward (.291/ .394/ .636 WOW!) sat on the bench and Robert Fick (.250/ .250/ .375) played first.

    That speed sure helped, didn't it, Frank? At least we only struck out six times. Cause that's what matters.

  • Our good friend Bill Ladson reports that Tony Armas is having an MRI on his forearm coughUCLtearcough. He also says that Nick Johnson is having an MRI for his back. More than a simple strain? God, I hope not.

  • That same Ladson report gives us our Jim Bowden Passing The Buck Statement O' The Week:
    Bergman wasn't the only one who pitched well. The Nationals thought about brining up right-hander Roy Corcoran, who is 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA and five saves for New Orleans. He has Major League experience having played for the Expos in 2003 and '04.

    "Corcoran was given serious consideration, but [New Orleans pitching coach Steve] McCatty recommended Bergmann," Bowden said.

    Corcoran, as you probably don't recall, expressed optimism and disappointment that he hasn't hopped on the Express Train outta New Orleans.

    So, instead of logically explaining that the reason the kid didn't get the call was because there's no room on the 40-man roster, and that the Nats didn't want to risk losing a player to call up a reliever when there's a passable alternative, he blames the kid's pitching coach. Way to win friends and influence enemies, JimBo.

  • Bye, third place. Effing Marlins.

  • Anagram O' The Day: Livan Hernandez: Zen Held: Nirvana.

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