Spring training is underway for the Pittsburgh Pirates, as pitchers and catchers reported to Bradenton, Fla., on Wednesday.
Missing from the group of pitchers is A.J. Burnett, who decided he’d rather be in Philadelphia like W.C. Fields than in Pittsburgh.
But, the big question in my mind about the Pirates’ starting pitching in 2014 is simply this: which Francisco Liriano will we see take the mound at PNC Park this summer?
Liriano went 12-3 in 2007, his second season with the Minnesota Twins, to go along with a 2.16 earned-run average and 144 strikeouts. He went a decent 6-4 with a 3.91 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 2008, but just 5-13 with a 5.80 ERA with 122 strikeouts in 2009.
Next came a solid year in 2010 with the Twins when the left-hander put up a 14-10 record with a 3.62 ERA and 201 strikeouts. Then, in 2011 the numbers went south again with a 9-10 record, a 5.09 ERA and 112 strikeouts. Liriano pitched for both the Twins and Chicago White Sox in 2012, and he recorded a combined record of 6-12 with a 5.34 ERA and 167 strikeouts.
The native of San Cristobal, Dominican Republic went 53-54 in seven years in the American League. His comeback in 2013 with the Bucs saw him put up a record of 16-8, 3.02 ERA, and 163 strikeouts as he came over to the National League. Can the 30-year-old excel in back-to-back seasons for the Pirates in 2014?
Should the fans – or the Bucs’ braintrust – expect it this summer on the North Shore?
Larry is a staff writer for City of Champions and the public address announcer for RMU men’s and women’s hockey at 84 Lumber Arena. Follow him on Twitter.