Joe Morgan participated in a pretty harmless chat today, which was honestly a little bit disappointing. He did, however, leave one gem in his wake:
Pete (NC): Are you surprised by the Nationals being over .500? Can they keep this up?
Joe Morgan: I think I’m pleasantly surprised. I thought they would be better. I am surprised that they’ve played so well. Part of the reason is Livan Hernandez has pitched great for them. He’s a veteran and when a veteran pitches well, it gives the team a little more confidence. You know he can sustain it.
I’m not angry or insane enough to accuse Morgan of actually believing that Hernandez is going to finish the season with a 1.04 ERA. I know he doesn’t actually think that. But the “you know he can sustain it” bit is problematic in one of two ways.
If Morgan is using “he” as a substitute for “veteran pitchers,” then that’s obviously ridiculous because being a veteran has nothing to do with whether or not a certain level of performance is sustainable. Hernandez is not more likely than other players to continue his hot start simply because he’s been around the league forever.
If Morgan is using “he” as a substitute for “Livan Hernandez,” then it’s possible Morgan has reached a new personal nadir in his career as a baseball analyst. Hernandez’s ERAs in each of the last three seasons are 4.93, 6.05, 5.44 (in 567 total innings of work). He has struck out 14 batters in 43 innings so far, making his K/9 a pathetic and foreboding 2.91. Opponents are hitting .188 on balls in play against him. He has stranded an absurd, insane, he-must-have-a-horseshoe-AND-a-four-leaf-clover-up-his-butt 98.9% of baserunners so far. In short, at this very moment, it’s possible that Hernandez is overachieving by a wider margin than any other baseball player in history has overachieved. So, no, Joe Morgan, we do not know he can sustain it. In fact, we know the opposite. We know that Hernandez has benefited from some unfathomably good luck, and that he’s going to come crashing back to earth dramatically and soon.