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Nationals' Friday Night Lineup; Dan Haren vs the Phillies In D.C.

Dan Haren last few starts have been more what the Washington Nationals expected when they signed the right-hander to a 1-year/$13M deal this past winter. Can he help the Nats break their current four-game losing streak when he takes on Philadelphia?

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It was a rough outing at the end of a rough month that finally led the Washington Nationals to make the decision to place Dan Haren on the 15-Day DL at the end of June. Haren allowed seven hits and six runs in 3 1/3 innings pitched against the Colorado Rockies on June 22nd, leaving him with an (0-3) record in four June outings and a 9.82 ERA in 18 1/3 IP in which opposing hitters had a .354/.391/.720 line with 29 hits, seven home runs and 20 runs total. Through 15 starts to that point, the 11-year veteran who signed a 1-year/$13M deal to solidify the back of the Nats' rotation was (4-9) with a 6.15 ERA, 5.08 FIP, 19 HRs (2.09 HR/9), 13 BB (1.43 BB/9) and 67 Ks (7.35 K/9) in 82 IP.

"When he pitches up he's in trouble. His cutter when he pitches up is more flat." - Davey Johnson on Dan Haren's struggles in June

"I'm a little concerned about him," Davey Johnson admitted after what ended up a 7-1 loss to the Rockies. "When he pitches up he's in trouble. His cutter when he pitches up is more flat. I'm going to have a talk with him next time he throws and see if we can't do something to make things better for him." Before Haren threw again, however, the team made the decision to place the right-hander on the DL for the second straight season and just the second time in his major league career. Haren would later admit that it helped and said he may have had more of a problem than he thought.

"'When I went on the DL, it really wasn't that bad of a thing,'" Haren told reporters, including's Dan Kolko. "'I think it was more precautionary on their side, giving me time to get 100 percent. But I definitely feel the difference.'"

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Since he's returned to the Nationals' rotation, Haren's gone (2-2) in five starts with a 2.40 ERA, eight walks (2.40 BB/9) and 32 Ks (9.60 K/9) in 30 IP, over which he's allowed just two home runs (0.60 HR/9).

Opposing hitters have a .206/.267/.290 line against the Nats' starter over that stretch. Last time out on the mound in Milwaukee, Haren held the Brewers to four hits and two walks in seven scoreless innings pitched, earning his first road win since May 2nd in Atlanta. That particular start against the Braves was one Davey Johnson pointed to before placing Haren on the DL as evidence that there was still something left in the right-hander.

"He's got a great resume coming in. And I know he wasn't proud of the way it was going..." - Davey Johnson after Dan Haren's recent success

"I always go back to the game he pitched against Atlanta," he told Nats radio announcer Charlie Slowes, "[He] went eight strong innings and was outstanding against a good-hitting ballclub and he made quality pitches throughout the whole game."

Haren will be back on the mound in the nation's capital tonight and looking for his third straight win when he faces a Philadelphia Phillies team, against whom he's (0-1) with a 4.76 ERA in three starts this season. He told's Bill Ladson this week that he knows he hasn't lived up to the contract he signed this winter and doesn't expect to be back in Washington next year. As the Nats' skipper has explained recently though, he's at least back to something resembling the pitcher the Nationals thought they signed.

"He's got a great resume coming in," Johnson said after the start against Milwaukee. "And I know he wasn't proud of the way it was going, but I think he felt better than he did in the year before because he struggled the year before in the first half and then came on in the second half and I think he felt coming in he was a lot healthier."

Can he help the Nationals stop their four-game losing streak with another strong outing tonight?

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