For as long as I live, I will never get tired of writing about the Washington Nationals.
However, I am really tired of writing about Dan Haren. Haren came to Washington with the idea that he would solidify what could be the best rotation in baseball, adding a veteran presence to a sea of young, electric arms. As we have learned far too many times this season, that description is the complete antithesis of what Haren has been. Haren went 3.1 innings yesterday, allowing seven hits, six earned runs, struck out five yet did not walk anyone and of course, allowed a home run. Haren’s ERA now sits at 6.15, worst in the league.
Haren can not make another start for the Nationals, period.
Haren is a guy that relies on pinpoint control, pitching down in the zone and getting hitters to get themselves out, but once was a guy who could blow hitters away with a hard fastball and great splitter and other offspeed stuff. Haren is a shell of that guy now, unable to consistently pitch down in the zone, especially with a cutter that is now completely flat and comparable to that of a bad slider. Haren also has not won a game since May 9. May. 9th.
I understand Haren is getting paid well (one yr/$13M), but it’s time for Washington to make a decision on him. Haren himself acknowledged after the game yesterday he has thought of his security in the rotation, which just marks a continual trend of accountability and class illustrated by Haren all season. Washington can come up with a phantom injury (back stiffness, hip tightness) and send him to the minors to try and rehab or work on mechanics. Davey Johnson has also alluded to skipping Haren’s next start, which certainly would make sense, especially if they decide to, you know, skip every one of his starts for the rest of the season.
A problem Haren poses is Washington’s minor league depth is not what it was in years past, where calling someone up would have seemingly been a given. Washington may not want to slide Ross Ohlendorf into their rotation because of the other ramifications it would have on their bullpen, as Craig Stammen would presumably slide back into the long man role, something that would certainly compromise Stammen’s use, at least until Ryan Mattheus returns.
Whatever Washington decides to do, if it can wait to skip Haren’s next start, I do not see why it does not take its time. It would allow it to take a good, long and comprehensive look at guys like Danny Rosenbaum or Taylor Jordan and analyze whether or not it can call one of them up, or if it needs to make a change.
One thing is for sure, and that is that Haren can not make another start for the Nationals.