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Key early Nat Livan debuts on '18 HOF ballot

Hernandez made 4 Opening Day starts for Washington over 7 seasons
MLB.com @JamalCollier

The pitcher who threw out the first pitch in Nationals history is making his debut on the Hall of Fame ballot this year.

The 2018 ballot was released on Monday afternoon by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, and it featured Livan Hernandez, who spent seven years of his 17-year Major League career in the Nationals' organization.

The pitcher who threw out the first pitch in Nationals history is making his debut on the Hall of Fame ballot this year.

The 2018 ballot was released on Monday afternoon by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, and it featured Livan Hernandez, who spent seven years of his 17-year Major League career in the Nationals' organization.

Hernandez pitched for Washington over two separate stints (2005-06 and 2009-11) and also played for the Montreal Expos (2003-04). The results of the election will be announced on Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network. Candidates must appear on at least 75 percent of ballots cast to be inducted.

• Complete Hall of Fame coverage

A year after Ivan Rodriguez became the first player to have played on the Nats to be inducted into Cooperstown, the team -- which just completed its 13th season -- is still searching for an inductee wearing a Nationals hat on his plaque. Hernandez would almost certainly fit the bill, for some of his most notable contributions came with the Nationals/Expos. His two All-Star appearances came with the Expos in 2004 and the Nats in '05.

Hernandez started and won the first game in Washington, D.C., since 1971 when he tossed 8 1/3 innings to beat the D-backs, 5-3, on April 14, 2005, at RFK Stadium. He would go on to represent the Nationals in the All-Star Game that season, making 35 starts for Washington and leading the Majors in innings pitched (246 1/3). Knee surgery derailed most of his 2006 season before the Nats traded him to the D-backs that year. However, Hernandez returned for his second stint in 2009-11, which included starting on Opening Day in '11, his fourth Opening Day appearance for the franchise.

During his Major League career, Hernandez was known as a workhorse on the mound, consistently taking the ball every fifth day and often pitching deep into games. In 2011, he threw the 50,000 pitch of his MLB career, and only 11 pitchers have thrown more pitches since 1988. He finished with 3,189 innings pitched.

During Spring Training this past season, Hernandez was a guest instructor for the Nationals and still stays involved with the organization from time to time.

Hernandez only stands an outside chance of getting inducted into the Hall of Fame, however, considering his 4.44 ERA and 95 ERA+ in his career. He was worth 34 1/2 Wins Above Replacement throughout his career, according to FanGraphs.

Montreal is likely to get another representative in Cooperstown, with Vladimir Guerrero likely to reach the 75-percent threshold after appearing on 71.7 percent of the ballots last year.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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