Feb 19, 2016

One Time New York Mets Pitcher: Livan Hernandez (2009)

Eisler Livan Hernandez was born on February 20, 1975 in Villa Clara Province Cuba, although many people question how true that date is.

He was getting paid $6 an hour as a Cuban athlete when he planned his escape through Mexico with a baseball recruiter at the age of 20. His half brother Orlando El Duque Hernandez defected two years later, also pitched in the major leagues. Hernandez signed with the Florida Marlins in order to live in the Miami area making a brief debut in September 1996. 
 Since then Hernandez is spending a long career as a work horse journey man who pitched 199 innings or more every season for over a decade (1998-2007).He had great movement on his pitches & has the ability to change speeds although he throws only in the mid 80's. 

In the Marlins 1997 Championship season he made his first start in June pitching in an interleague game against the AL New York club. On June 28th he beat the Montreal Expos at home & went on to win nine straight decisions into September.

He ended the year at 9-3 in 17 starts with a 3.18 ERA, striking out 72 batters in 96 innings of work. He beat the Mets for his second win on July 2nd but lost to them on September 22nd when he allowed seven earned runs in just 2.1 innings of work. 

Post Season: In the NLCS he beat the Atlanta Braves twice, winning the LCS MVP Award. His first win came in relief in Game #3 & then he pitched a complete game in Game #5, where he out pitched Greg Maddox 2-1. In the Series he posted a 0.84 ERA in 10.2 innings pitched striking out 16 Braves. 

In the 1997 World Series he beat Orel Hershiser & the Cleveland Indians in the opener 7-4. He returned in Game #5, although he gave up five runs, he pitched eight innings & earned his second World series win.

As the Marlins won the Championship, Livan put himself on the map winning the Series MVP Award going 2-0 with seven strike outs, ten walks, nine runs allowed in 13.2 innings pitched. Overall he was 4-0 in his first post season. He is one of just four players to win both the LCS & World Series MVP Awards joining; Darrel Porter (1982) Willie Stargell (1979) & Orel Hershiser (1988). 

 Before Game #7, the United States & Cuban Governments worked together to bring his mother to Miami. Livan & his mother were reunited for the first time in two years. Quite a night for the two, his mother & his sister still reside in Florida today. 

Following the championship in 1998 he went 10-12 with a 4.72 ERA allowing a league leading 265 hits pitching in 33 games in his first full season. That year the Marlins had a fire sale getting rid of their top players, dropped to fifth place going 54-108. Livan also would be moved going to the San Francisco Giants for Jason Grilli & Nate Bump. 

Livan would spend four years in San Francisco, having his best year there in 2000, leading the NL Western Champion Giants by winning 17 games (going 17-11) posting a 3.75 ERA, striking out 165 batters pitching in 240 innings (5th in the NL). He pitched five complete games & had two shut outs. That year he allowed another league leading 254 hits, in his career he would allow the most hits in the league five times. 

Post Season: In the 2000 NLDS against the New York Mets he was the winning pitcher in the opening Game #1, allowing just one run in seven innings pitched. 

 The next year he led the NL in hits (266) earned runs (132) while going 13-15 (4th most losses in the NL) posting a 5.24 ERA. His last season with the Giants was the 2002 wild card season where they went all the way to the World Series. Hernandez led the league in losses (going 12-16) posting a 4.38 ERA. His 12 wins were last among the Giants starters who had two 14 & two 13 game winners. 

Post Season: In the post season he beat Tom Glavine & the Atlanta Braves in Game #4 of the NLDS, pitching into the 9th inning striking out six Braves. In the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals he got a no decision pitching into the 7th inning allowing two runs in Game #4 at Pac Bell Park in San Francisco. 
 This time in the World Series he wasn’t as successful going 0-2 allowing nine earned runs in 5.2 innings pitched against the Anaheim Angels.

In Game #7 he allowed a double to Bengie Molina in the 2nd inning tying up the game, but the big blow came in the third inning. He gave up a bases loaded double to Garrett Anderson which scored three runs, earning him the loss. 
 In Spring Training 2003, he was traded to the Montreal Expos where he would win 15 games, leading the league in complete games (8) & innings pitched (233).


He would lead the league over the next three seasons, moving with the Expos franchise to their new home in Washington D.C. He made the first start in Nationals history on April 4th in Philadelphia taking a loss to the Phillies allowing seven earned runs in 4.2 innings of work. After a 1-2 start, he went on to win ten straight decisions, giving the Nationals a taste of some of their early history excitement. He made the All Star team that season & the next season as well. He finished the year at 15-10 (9th most wins in the league) leading the league in starts (35) innings (246) & hits (268) posting a 3.98 ERA. 


 In August of 2006 he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Matt Chico & Garrett Mock. He went 13-13 on the year, also going .500 (11-11) in 2007.

He got to another post season that season, his fourth & last to date. Hernandez beat the Chicago Cubs in the NLDS & then lost Game #3 to the Colorado Rockies as they went on to sweep the D-backs four straight.

He signed on with the Minnesota Twins for 2008 going 10-8 but was placed on waivers in August to make room for Nelson Liriano. He was soon picked up by the Colorado Rockies. He finished out the season there going 3-3 in eight games with the Rockies. 

In February of 2009 Omar Minaya, now General Manager of the New York Mets signed him to a one year deal. The two had formed a relationship during their days with the Expos organization.

Hernandez began the year as the teams number five starter, debuting in Florida on April 11th against the Marlins. He won his first Mets outing pitching into the seventh inning allowing two runs in the 8-4 Mets win. He lost his first game that year in St. Louis, allowing seven runs in less than five innings of work. 

Livan pitched well from the start of May into early June, winning four straight decisions in that time. He would pitch into the seventh inning in the first two of those wins, in Atlanta & at Citi Field against the Pirates.

On May 26th he threw a complete game win against his old Washington teammates, allowing just one run while striking out six. He made Mets history by pitching the first complete game in the new Citi Field. Livan was 5-1 with a 3.88 ERA on June 7th, as the Mets were 30-25 just three games out of first place, but then the whole thing fell apart. 

Livan then lost four straight games and seven of his next nine decisions before he was released on August 20th, to make room for Billy Wagner's return. As a Met, Hernandez pitched 23 games going 7-8 with a 75 strike outs, 51 walks while posting a 5.47 ERA. He was picked up once again by the Washington Nationals & then went 2-4 the rest of the way. 

In 2010 he became the teams main starter, pitching in 35 games leading the staff in wins (12) ERA (3.66) complete games (2) shut outs (1) & innings pitched (211). In 2011 he was 8-13 making 29 starts posting a 4.41 ERA pitching 175 innings. 

At the age of 37 Hernandez began the 2012 season with the Houston Astros but was released at the end of Spring Training. He was then signed by the Atlanta Braves & made his Braves debut at Citi Field, in the second game of the season, pitching two innings of the Braves 4-2 loss to the Mets. 
 He pitched in 18 games as a middle reliever for the Braves, earning a win at St. Louis on May 11th. In mid June his ERA was 5.24 & he was released, getting picked up by the Milwaukee Brewers. In 26 games with the Brewers he went 3-0 posting a high 7.68 ERA. 

In his career Livan has been a solid defensive player, making just 15 errors on the mound in 827 chances & 3189 innings, leading the league in assists twice. He is also a good hitting pitcher, batting .221 with 215 hits in his career, 10 HRs 38 doubles & 85 RBIs. 

In his 17 year career he is 178-177 (79th most losses all time) with a 4.44 ERA striking out 1976 batters (75th all time) & walking 1066 (88th all time). He has pitched 3189 innings (107th all time) given up 3525 hits (62nd all time) & 1572 earned runs (34th all time). He has thrown 50 complete games with nine shut outs in 519 games & 474 starts (63rd all time).

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