Is Washington Nationals’ Dan Haren Set Up For Uncharacteristic Second-Half Boon?

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t look now, but Dan Haren might be good sort of okay again.

Okay, admittedly, that not-so-solid proclamation might be very premature, but when you consider the season that the veteran has had in 2013 thus far, you’d have to think that the Washington Nationals will take what positivity they can get out of their $13 million dollar man at this point.

And while it’s unlikely that they’re going to fully recoup the value from the former ace, his last two starts do provide a glimmer of hope.

Sure, one of them did come against the lowly Miami Marlins, but hey, six shutout innings are six shutout innings, right? Combined with his July 8 start — his first after coming back from the DL with a ‘shoulder issue’ — that now gives Haren a 1.64/1.27 ERA/WHIP over his last 11 innings.

No, there hasn’t been a significant change in the right-hander’s velocity over those starts, but it was the first time over a month that he’d put a pair of quality starts together; and perhaps more impressively (or sad, depending on how you want to look at it), it was the very first time in the 2013 season that Haren went through two starts without allowing a single home run.

Before we get too far into the love-fest though, it is worth pointing out that the 32-year-old did enjoy an 85.7 percent strand rate over the two turn, and he was giving up line drives at a 37 percent rate … so sustainability in the second half is far from anything guaranteed.

Given his track record of post-break declines (3.55/1.14 ERA/WHIP in first half, 4.01/1.26 in second half over career), Haren will have history against him as well.

That said, the context is a little different here. Washington does have an issue with the backend of its rotation, but the thing is that they don’t really need the former ace to pitch anything close to how he did in his prime. As a backend starter, a 4.01/1.26 ERA/WHIP will more than suffice. In fact, it might be be considered well above expectations at this point.

So in that way, I guess you could say that all Haren needs to do in the second half is just pitch to his career status quo; seems easy enough, yes?

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