At this point there is nothing other than inertia keeping Dan Haren going out to the mound every 5th day. If the Nats are serious about trying to launch a late season comback, Haren has proven he can't be trusted to go out and give the Nats a quality start. If the Nats are ready to throw in the towel, giving Haren the ball is pointless given that he won't be here next year.
He's not eating innings (Less that 5 1/2 per game). He's getting blown up often (5 times in 18 games he's left with the Nats trailing by at least 5 runs). He's the 2nd worst qualified starter by ERA in the majors this year. If you believe his HR tendencies are a fluke perhaps he can bounce back, if you don't he's likely calling it a career.
The pitch data isn't in yet, but I can tell you that yesterday's game looks a lot like the rest of his awful season. Guys hitting everything for line drives or fly balls (only 4 GBs vs PIT), waiting on pitches and crushing them when they guess right. He's right when he says that this season he's getting punished for his mistakes. What he fails to realize is there's a reason behind that. Every pitcher makes mistakes. Some more than others but no one throws the perfect pitch every time. When your thing is not missing the plate, your mistakes are more likely to be hittable. When your repertoire isn't distinct enough, your mistakes are more likely to be hit hard.
Up next for Haren would be the Mets who have a surprisingly acceptable offense this season. Then after a stop in Milwaukee, it would be the Braves. Do you want him pitching that game under any circumstances? Why wait then? Pull the trigger now so you aren't sending up a rookie in his first start to do battle in a must-win situation.
It was a gamble. It wasn't even necessarily a bad gamble. But it failed miserably. Time to wave the white flag. Time to throw out Caleb Clay or Taylor Hill and see if they can be the depth the Nats need next year or if they'll have to go and sign a bunch of mediocre major leaguers to roster fill Syracuse in place of the Mayas and Tatuskos that should be cut.
Where did I go wrong?
Like most pundits I had the Nats winning the NL East this year. I wasn't as gung-ho about it as some but 94 wins was still a solid total. Looking back it's pretty easy to see what I had wrong. I knew the offense was going to regress. However, I thought that the combination of Werth full-time, Ramos full-time and improving, Bryce full-time and improving, and Espinosa possibly improving would cover for the regression elsewhere. It would be a safety net of sorts that would catch the offense that was falling. What happened? Espinosa was hurt. Bryce got injured. Ramos got injured. Werth also got injured for a little bit. The safety net disappeared to be replaced by a downdraft slamming the Nats to the bottom of the NL.
Such is the life of a pundit. You know injuries will happen but you don't know to whom and when. Imagine this alternate scenario : Espy has surgery early and is replaced by Rendon. Span goes down and is replaced by Bernie for a month and a half. Ramos goes down late and is replaced by a rested Suzuki in Sept. That happens and maybe the offense doesn't miss a beat. But Espy plays through it, Bryce goes out, and Ramos goes out? Everything is going down and nothing is coming up to match it.
I also said Haren would not be a disaster. So much for that.
Read this by the way. Great piece on how the Nats could fail so miserably with seemingly most of the starters hitting/pitching like you thought they might.