Sep 13, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano (47) delivers a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
After Cole, the other reliable starter in the Pirates rotation is lefty Francisco Liriano. Both Liriano and Cole have been with the Pirates for three seasons, and have been fixtures at the top of the Pirates rotation.
Last season, the first of a three year contract, Liriano went 12-7 with a 3.38 ERA. The 35 year old lead the Pirates in strikeouts last season with 205. Liriano helped bring a more experienced arm into a 2015 rotation that was relatively young.
Since coming to the Pirates, Liriano has won 10 or more games two out of his three years and has kept an ERA in the low to mid threes. Strikeouts have been a key to Liriano’s time with the Pirates, and last season he struck out 10 or more batters in six of his 31 starts.
When Liriano’s slider is on he is one of the hardest pitchers to face in all of baseball, but if its off, so is Liriano. Last season he got the third-most strikeouts on sliders in baseball.
Liriano has been up and down over his entire MLB career. He has won two comeback player of the year awards including one in each league. However, pitching coach Ray Searage brings out the best in his pitchers, and it certainly has worked for Liriano.
In 2016 Liriano’s consistency will be the key to the Pittsburgh Pirates success. If he can have a season like he did last year, the Pirates will be just fine in 2016. I see Liriano going 13-8 with a 3.30 ERA. The ERA will stay where it has been for the majority of his career with a slight jump in wins from last season. Liriano along with Cole will anchor the top of the Pirates starting rotation in 2016 and will look to give them the best chance to win.
Next: Jon Niese