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Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 05/20/2011

Few big league starters receive less run support than Livan Hernandez


Here’s a positive Nationals-related thought to start your morning: On Friday night, Jason Marquis will take the mound at Baltimore knowing that, on average, he receives more run support than any other Washington starting pitcher.

In fact, according to Elias Sports Bureau, only 16 other starting pitchers in all of baseball own a higher run support average* than does Marquis (7.59).

* Elias Sports Bureau defines run support average as a team’s runs scored (on average, per nine innings) while said player is the pitcher of record.

This is relevant because, as you might have heard, the Nationals are in a bit of an offensive rut. They’ve been shut out in each of their past two games. Their batting average and on-base percentage are among baseball’s worst. Their frustration level may well be at a season high.

So perhaps it’s a good time to hand the ball to Marquis. After all, the Nationals seem to hit (and score) when it’s his turn in the rotation.

Livan Hernandez is not so fortunate. Only three starting pitchers** in the major leagues have garnered a worse run support average than Hernandez (3.22) this season.

** Those three unfortunate starters are San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner (3.19), Baltimore’s Jeremy Guthrie (2.89) and Pittsburgh’s Paul Maholm (2.24).

Washington has not scored a run in either of Hernandez’s past two outings, during which he threw a combined 14 innings and allowed a combined two earned runs. The Nationals have tallied one run combined in Hernandez’s past four outings.

“Like I said the game before, I don’t get frustrated or nothing,” Hernandez said Thursday, following a performance during a 1-0 loss at New York in which he allowed one run in seven innings. “I just try to do my job and try to continue to pitch like that. I can’t do nothing (about the team’s hitting). I want to pitch good like that and hopefully if I pitch good like that we’ll win a lot of games.”

How do the rest of the Nationals’ starters fare when it comes to run support average? Well, Saturday’s starter, John Lannan, ranks No. 21 in the majors with an RSA of 7.17. Sunday’s starter, Jordan Zimmermann, ranks No. 72 with an RSA of 5.25. And Tom Gorzelanny checks in at No. 101 (out of 116) with a 4.31 RSA.

“Our hitters, believe me, they feel horrible about that,” Washington manager Jim Riggleman said Thursday of wasting solid performances from the team’s starting pitchers. “They’re trying to do everything they can to turn it around. It is what it is. You pitch good and you don’t score runs, then you’ve used up that effort.”

As for the Baltimore starters the Nationals will face this weekend, here’s how they stack up in the RSA department: Friday’s starter, Jake Arrieta (9.47) owns the third-highest mark in the majors. Guthrie gets the call on Saturday, and we’ve already discussed how putrid his RSA is. Chris Tillman, Sunday’s starter, is more difficult to gage in this regard because, according to Elias, he has not pitched enough innings to qualify.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Syracuse 9, Norfolk 4: DH Michael Aubrey went 2 for 5 with a double and four RBI.

Kannapolis 6, Hagerstown 1 (F/6): 3B Blake Kelso hit 1 for 3 and scored Hagerstown’s lone run. Game 2 of the scheduled double-header was postponed.

Potomac 14, Frederick 6: Six Potomac players hit home runs, including CF Eury Perez and RF Destin Hood, each of whom tallied three RBI.

Harrisburg 3, New Britain 1: Left-hander Oliver Perez pitched five-plus innings, allowing two walks, one hit and one run. He tallied three strikeouts. Game 2 of the scheduled double-header was postponed.

By  |  06:00 AM ET, 05/20/2011

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