The Washington Times - April 27, 2013, 11:42AM

To put it charitably, Dan Haren’s previous start this season against the Cincinnati Reds did not go very well.

Haren served as the tee for what became a 15-0 Reds rout at Great American Ball Park on April 5, giving up nine hits (including four homers) and six runs in four innings in his season debut. The veteran right-hander has surrendered three earned runs in each of his subsequent three starts, unable to pitch beyond the fifth inning in any of them.

SEE RELATED:


Part of the problem, Nationals manager Davey Johnson believes, is that Haren might have been trying too hard out of the gate to keep up with his young-gun rotation mates.

“I think Haren was building arm strength in the spring and came out trying to join the group of flamethrowers, mid-90s guys, and he quit doing things that make him successful: locate the ball, control the bat speed by changing speeds,” Johnson said Saturday morning. “He showed more signs of going back to that his last time out.”

According to Pitch f/x data on FanGraphs.com, Haren’s fastball is running 0.9 mph faster this year than a year ago at 89.4 mph, and his cutter is 1.3 mph faster at 85.8. How would Johnson feel if he sees Haren topping out at 87-88 mph today?

“I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine,” he said. “It’s his location and change of speeds.”

But, Johnson emphasized, “in attack mode, not in a defensive mode.”