Nationals Send Dan Haren To Hill In Finale With Royals + Nats' Lineup

Brian Kersey

Washington Nationals' right-hander Dan Haren has arguably been the team's best starter since he returned from a DL stint in early July and there is some chatter about potentially trading the veteran pitcher, though nothing is imminent and he's starting today for the Nats.

Since coming off the DL on July 8th, Dan Haren's been a different pitcher. Haren signed a 1-year/$13M deal this winter with the hope that the first half of the 2012 campaign was an anomaly and the pitcher he was in the second half of 2012 in LA was more indicative of the kind of pitcher the 32-year-old right-hander was at this stage of his career.

In his first 15 starts with the Washington Nationals, however, Haren struggled. The 11-year veteran had a 6.15 ERA in 15 starts and 82 IP over which opposing hitters had a .306/.340/.548 line and 19 HRs (2.09 HR/9). The second DL stint of his career and a cortisone shot in a shoulder he didn't think was an issue turned things around for the Nats' starter though, and since returning to the rotation, he's arguably been the Nationals' best starter.

"I mean, for a pennant run, he's a big game pitcher and he's showing it every time he goes out now." - Davey Johnson on potential interest in Dan Haren

Haren's posted a 2.16 ERA in nine games and eight starts since coming back, and more importantly, he's kept the ball in the yard, limiting opposing hitters, who have a .193/.244/.298 line against him since he's returned, to just four home runs (0.72 HR/9) and 10 walks (1.80 HR/9) while striking out 50 (9.00 K/9) in 50 IP. Haren's on a one-year deal though, and he's told reporters he's not sure he sees himself back in the nation's capital in 2014. Will he remain with the Nationals through the end of this season?

Haren was placed on and cleared waivers, so the Nationals are free to trade the right-hander to any team at this point. Davey Johnson discussed the possibility of Haren being dealt after his last start in Chicago, telling reporters after Haren held the Cubs to six hits and one earned run in six innings of work that he could see contending teams showing interest. "No question about it," the Nats' 70-year-old manager said, "I mean, for a pennant run, he's a big game pitcher and he's showing it every time he goes out now."

Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier recently that he's heard from some team that have inquired about Haren's availability."He's a veteran starter that's pitching extremely well," Rizzo said, "and teams that are in the hunt that are in the market for a starting pitcher have touched base with us, but nothing is imminent." Though he'd consider it, Rizzo said it would be a tough decision. "He gives us a chance to win every time out and he's a guy that would be tough for us to move.

"He gives us a chance to win every time out and he's a guy that would be tough for us to move." - Mike Rizzo on Dan Haren on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.

After making a couple moves this week, Rizzo reiterated in a discussion with reporters, including the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore, that the Nationals would consider moving Haren in the right deal. "'He’s pitching extremely well for us,'" Rizzo was quoted stating. "'We would certainly listen. I wouldn’t be doing my job if we didn’t. But we would have to get ourselves a good package of players to consider moving him.'"

For now, Haren remains in the Nationals' rotation and he starts for the Nats as they look to win their sixth straight and 12th of the last 16 today in Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, where the right-hander is (4-0) with a 1.99 ERA in six career starts.

• Here's the Nationals' lineup for this afternoon's game:

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