Like a Jenga piece on edge, Liriano is a key cog to the Pirates rotation because if he falters the entire staff goes with him. The 32 year old has been extraordinary since he joined the Pirates in 2013, but there are starts where he makes you want to gouge your eyes out.
Like most of the Pirates’ staff, Liriano induces a very high ground ball rate and gets a bunch of double plays. In fact, his 22 twin kills by groundout last season ranked in the top 10 in all of baseball and he needs every one of those. Liriano’s walk rate is extraordinarily high, leading to baserunners in dangerous positions some innings.
Francisco’s slider and changeup are absolutely filthy and his fastball has enough velocity to keep batters honest. I’d be surprised to see much regression from the veteran lefty. He’s found a second wind in the Steel City and whatever Searage is feeding him is obviously working.
Next: Jon Niese