Since Livan is already on the team, you know they can’t have just acquired him for the 4th time. They have instead signed a pitcher named Yuniesky Maya, sometimes seen as Yunesky, I’m sure it’ll get worked out at some point. It’s not official yet, as apparantly the Nats won’t make the announcement until all Visa type things are worked out, but everyone is saying it’s a done deal. He’s listed at 28 years old, turning 29 in August, and given that he’s only pitched 6 seasons in the Cuban National Series, that may be accurate. Given that records from Cuba are usually looked at with some skepticism (they currently list Livan as 175 lbs and only 22 years old – kidding!), he may be 30, he may actually be 28.
What About His Pitching
Allegedly, it’s pretty good. According to ESPN’s La Esquina blog, he threw for scouts in the Dominican in December. He throws a fastball that tops out in the low 90s. MLB.com said it was clocked as high as 94, but that may be an occasional extreme. He has excellent command, and with a slower fastball but a ton of strikeouts, you’d expect some great command. He also throws a curve, a slider and a changeup, all considered to be plus pitches, at least by his agent.
In the Cuban League, he’s gone 48-29 with a 2.51 ERA over 6 seasons. He seems to have taken time starting and relieving in the Cuban league, where the roles are not as clearly defined as in the US. Last year, in the 2008-2009 season, he did very well, amassing a 13-4 record with a 2.22 ERA and 1 save. He struck out 119 in 146 IP.
He finished the season ranked 2nd in both strikeouts (to Aroldis Chapman) and ERA (to someone else) in the league. He was named to the All Star team and, if I understand correctly, that honor included being named the best right handed pitcher in the league last year.
In the World Baseball Classic, he was impressive in 2009. Although he had an 0-1 record, he only gave up 1 ER in 7 1/3 IP, sturck out 4 and walked 2. He only started one game, against Japan, where he went 3 2/3 and didn’t give up any ER, but was taken out after an outfielder dropped a popup lost in the fog and allowed 2 unearned runs to score. In 2006 he was also on the team, made 3 relief appearances, and didn’t give up a run.
A Side Note
What may end up most interesting about this, and it’s all yet to be seen, is the contract. Not because I actually care how much they pay him, but that it’s quite possible the Nats came in and took out some big bankroll teams in order to get their man. The Yankees, Red Sox, Mets and Phillies were all interested, and if the Nats went a few million over just to get a guy they liked, I think that is a very good sign for the future of this team. Unless of course he sucks.