Friday, August 16, 2013

Haren continues post-DL resurgence

Photo by USA Today
Since returning from the disabled list on July 8, Dan Haren has been a markedly better pitcher. The difference is striking.

He was diagnosed with shoulder stiffness and administered a cortisone shot, but if you ask Haren, the problem wasn’t physical. The drastic improvement is simply a change in approach. He is more conservative with his pitches and focuses on keeping the ball low.

It sounds simple but whatever, it’s working.

“I’m definitely happier with the way I’m throwing than I was a month ago,” he said. “Before I went on the DL it was a mixture of making a few bad pitches, a little bit of bad luck. Now I’m just more focused on keeping the ball down, keeping the defense in the game.”

Since facing the Phillies in his July 8 return, Haren has held a 2.30 ERA with 42 strikeouts and ten walks in 43 total innings. He went to the DL with a 6.15 season ERA, it’s now 4.82. 

Haren continued his resurgence on Thursday with six innings of one-run ball, allowing just three hits and two walks. He battled through a 27-pitch first inning with the bases loaded to make it six, salvaging what at first looked like a regression to his early season self.

Haren’s sole costly mistake was a home run to Brandon Belt, but given it was a solo shot, he’ll take it.

“I had a couple of walks, but they didn’t burn me,” he said. “The solo homer, that’s no big deal there. I definitely didn’t have my best stuff, but I made it work.”

The home run was just his third in seven starts since coming off the DL, he had allowed 19 in his previous 15 outings. That’s more than a homer a game and left him among the worst in the majors in the category.

Now, Haren says, he’s more careful in tight situations. Instead of trying to attack a hitter when he’s down on the ropes, he’ll play it safe to prevent further damage.

“I’m just trying to minimize home runs, especially in big situations. Even today, with second and third in the first inning and [Hunter] Pence up, I walked him,” he said.

“Early in the year I might have thrown something in the middle and challenged him and get burned there. I tried to make a pitch, missed, and then went after the next guy. Sometimes I was a little bit over aggressive earlier in the year. But just keeping the ball down, missing down in the zone, it’s made a big difference.”

Despite the Nationals losing, several players drew Haren’s outing as a positive from the game. He is showing consistency and they’ll need it in order to chase the NL Wild Card.

This is how we know Danny can pitch,” Ryan Zimmerman said. “I don’t think anybody was more upset with the way he was pitching than himself. I think for him to come off the DL and pitch like he’s pitched and finish the year strong, it shows you not only what kind of person he is but what kind of pitcher he’s been his whole career.” 


Tcostant said...

Now this leads to two questions:

1 - Do you trade him for a prospect by Aug 31st (trade value goes down after that because then he couldn't be on another teams post season roster)?

2 - If he stays and con't to pick well, do you make him a qualifying offer at similar salary to what he make this year and risk that he might say yes? Is that worth the risk for a draft choice?

Faraz Shaikh said...

1. it seems impossible to make postseason right now but technically we are in it so I don't want to give up either. They played good baseball until that stupid HR last night. Hope is still there. In short, no I don't want Haren traded.

2. QO is a tougher decision. His per year value has definitely gone down and I am not sure if any teams would likely make a multi-year offer even if pitches well until the end of postseason. Personally, I would like this post-DL to come back (2.3 ERA, .190 BAA, .533 OPSA) but let's wait and see.

Theophilus T. S. said...

I don't see them offering Haren $14MM. And I don't see him wanting, particularly, to accept it. I've read that he would prefer to be w/ his family on the West Coast and I suspect that the only thing that would dissuade him is a two-year deal (maybe $8-9MM per?). And that's a place the Nats don't want to go either.

Late in the offseason, if nothing else is on the table, he might agree to come back on favorable terms. But I'd prefer they solve their rent-an-arm problem early rather than wait until there's nothing on the table but crumbs.

If they're 12 back in the WC race on 8/30, I'd trade -- and at the rate they're going that's a good possibility. Assuming he has two more good starts he should fetch at least a Zach Walters-type prospect.

The sad realization is that, even if he continues to pitch at this level through the rest of the season he won't get his ERA down to 4.0. A sign of how awful the first three mos. were.

NatsLady said...

Continuing discussion from previous post. Just read Boz article on last night's loss. My respect for Soriano just went up about 100%. He knows he has to face the music, puts on his suit and tie and does it. Clip also, excellent comments. Desi, too, very supportive of Soriano. Feel bad for Haren, guy's a scrapper.

NatsLady said...

Re: Haren. I think he SERIOUSLY underestimated what it would take to get into game shape, physically, and perhaps also mentally. He's turning into a "crafty righty" with strategic walks. I don't think he should get a QO, but if he'll sign for $7-8MM, take him.

mick said...

any pro who untucks his shirt after the poor performance he had when Span bailed him out is not the kind of player you win championships with

mick said...

1 more day of beach


Theophilus T. S. said...

Soriano essentially blamed the umpire for everything -- not walking what's his face or throwing a slider that looked as big as a watermelon. He gets credit for answering questions but his answers were self-serving. Grade: C-. I would have been happy if he'd thrown Johnson under the bus, e.g., "pitching three days in a row is tough and my FB was down to 89-90 and I couldn't sneak it by the hitters." That would have been a more accurate rendition of what happened.

Johnson goes into the game saying, "I don't want to use Clippard or Soriano if I don't have to." Then he used 'em both, which I suspect makes them not available (really?) for tonite when Taylor's likely to leave them needing four or even five innings from the BP.

What was the point of calling up Storen if you weren't going to use him? The outcome couldn't have been any worse.

Just as much as Span, Soriano has been "not the player we expected." His FB is down a couple of MPH; he gives up a lot of hits plus a few walks, he's not an iron man, he can't get a K when he needs it and his FB and slider don't translate into very many DPs. Not worth $14MM this year and certainly not worth $14MM more next year. Except if someone's closer breaks a wing before Aug. 31 I don't know how to get rid of him. (And I'll worry about replacing him later.)

JD said...

For me signing Soriano was Rizzo's poorest move:

1) He over paid a pitcher who even at his best is an above average reliever and not a top notch closer.

2) He over reacted (like all the fans) to game 5, totally threw his young closer under the bus and to a large extent is responsible for Storen's poor season.

3) he is now stuck with Soriano for 1 more year and at these prices he is almost certain to close again.

JD said...

Haren is having a nice stretch but the odds of him reverting back to where he was before that are pretty good considering he will be 1 year older. I think it's time to move on for both the player and the team.

I would trade Soriano and Haren in a heart beat if someone would take on a sizable chunk of their remaining salaries. I think not having Soriano here next year is addition by subtraction.

Anonymous said...


I think I mentioned this yesterday: I totally agree with you that the Soriano signing was the worst move Rizzo has made, not just this season but perhaps in his tenure as GM. Don't forget that it also cost us a last first round draft pick in the 2013 draft.

I totally disagree that he "threw his young closer under the bus," however. Anyone who is so emotionally fragile that he can't handle a demotion to setup man is not someone I want closing for my team anyway. I think Drew's struggles have been mechanical and maybe mental, but not related to losing his closer job, and I expect he'll recover and be the Drew we all knew and loved in 2014.

waddu eye no said...

tough game.

candide - sorry i missed you. hour and a half from georgetown to park, got there in time for werth's first hit.

got my bens half smoke, though. still feeling it.

lets sweep the braves!!!


Whynat said...

I started the season being in Soriano's camp, and kind of liked the iceman demeanor, but the bottom line is he now has a pretty full body of work as the Nat's closer and his numbers are just not good enough. Compared to all MLB closers he is:
24 out of 30 in ERA
20 of 30 in save % conversion
Last in K/9
24 of 30 in WHIP
27 of 30 in BA

So in every metric he is in or near the bottom quarter of MLB closers. Not good.

JD said...


Losing your job undeservedly at the age of 25 is not a minor thing, remember he pitched very well leading up to game 5. I don't think it's fragility rather its confusion and anger.

I think mechanical problems can be overcome if you are in the right mindset. If you are not then things snowball.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

From Haren's own words about challenging a hitter by throwing the ball down the middle, I'm wondering when he figured out that it wasn't a good strategy.

Seriously Dan? A 4.80s ERA still needs about 5 more performances like the most recent to get you to respectability in the upper 3's for an ERA.

I'm happy to see the recent success but let's not get carried away here.

Whynat said...

BTW, Natslady, I really enjoy your posts here. Usually backed up by direct observation, stats, or analysis, tempered with some life experience and positive outlook. Thanks for making my Nats fandoom more enjoyable.

Go Nats, let's sweep the Braves and then see what happens!

Whynat said...

fan"doom" was some kind of slip

Anonymous said...

Theophilus T. S. said...

"Not worth $14MM this year and certainly not worth $14MM more next year."

Well then I've got some good news for you, Theo. He's only making $7 million this year and $7 million next year. The rest of his salary is deferred until after 2018, significantly decreasing its NPV and also having little to no impact on the Nats' ability to sign free agents now or in the future. For Nats' fans purposes, Soriano makes $7 million this year and $7 million next year.

NatsLady said...

LOL, whynat.

When the season began, a Cards fan said, You don't know what it's like to lose. I though, WHAT?? We know what it's like to lose? Look at the 100+ loss seasons.

What he meant, though, was, you don't know what it's like to lose when you expect to win. When you SHOULD win. In Game 5 I already had mental emails written. Last night, too, and a dozen or more time this year, we lost when we should have won. I know what he meant.

JamesFan said...

Soriano's stats may be down in all categories but one: He's third in saves in MLB.

Can you imagine what bloggers would be saying about Rizzo if he had not signed Soriano and Storen had performed like he has all year so far. Yes, Storen is a likable young man, but he was damaged goods whether he closed or not. Soriano is not warm and fuzzy but he's done ok given the overall performance of the team this year. Had they been in first, he might have been a little tougher.

Believing that we could rely on Storen to be the closer this year is a fantasy.

ChiefWJ said...

A few interesting items about Storen's performance:

1) His OPS against, vs RH & LH hitters
2010-673 RH, 625 LH
2011-541 RH, 641 LH
2012-417 RH 635 LH
2013-his OPS against is 831; not sure about splits, but he's given up 24 hits & 7 walks v LH in approx 80 plate appearances and 27 hits and 6 walks v RH in approx 113 plate appearances.

2) His BABIP:
2010 308
2011 247
2012 265
2013 355

3) His ERA at home this year is 7.23, 4.34 on the road.

4) Batting av against with 2 outs:
2919 145
2011 185
2012 063
2013 242

Possible conclusions:
1) His major problem is his relative inability to get lefthanders out. This wasn't true his first two years, but was relatively true last year. This trend couldn't be due to the acquisition of Soriano, since it started last year but has gotten worse because of an overall decline in performance, particularly with two outs. As I noted yesterday, the RH/LH split was pronounced in Syracuse, so if this is an issue it hasn't been fixed.
2) His high BABIP suggests there's some bad luck involved, although it all can't be blamed on that. His strikeout figures are comparable.
3) His home/road splits this year suggest he doesn't like pitching here, which supports the Rizzo-did-it-to-him analysis as a contributing factor, although that could be a small sample size.

natsfan1a said...

Good for you, Danny.

Post a Comment