PIRATES TO SIGN LIRIANO
The Pittsburgh Pirates have reached an agreement with lefty Francisco Liriano on a two year deal. La Velle E. Neal of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports the deal will be worth $14 million over two years. This is an intriguing signing for the Pirates as executives around the league have been pegging Liriano and the Pirates as an ideal fit since the start of free agency.
Liriano possesses electric stuff and years ago looked like one of baseball’s rising starts.
Liriano, 29, went 6-12 with a 5.34 ERA last season. He threw 167 strikeouts in 156 2/3 innings and was 6th in the AL with 87 walks last season splitting time with the Twins and Whitesox. Since his Tommy John Surgery in November 2006, dealing with arm issues has been an issue, ranging from a tired arm to a sore shoulder over the years. Liriano though has averaged over 100 innings the past five seasons and is just two years removed from a masterful 2010 campaign when he went 14-10 with a 3.62 ERA and had 201 strikeouts and just 57 walks. That year Liriano’s slider was rated by fangraphs as the best slider in the baseball based off their pitch value.
WHAT THE SIGNING MEANS
The Pirates dishing out a 2 year, $14 million deal to Liriano means the team has confidence in Liriano being the pitcher he was in 2010. The addition gives the Pirates a projected top-3 of A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez and Liriano with hopes that James McDonald can win the No. 4 spot and be the pitcher he was in first half of 2012.
With Liriano the amount of walks since his excellent 2010 season when he struck out 201 batters and walked just 58 batters in 191.2 innings is concerning.
In 2011, Liriano in 134.1 innings (57.1 innings less than 2010), had just 112 strikeouts (-89 from 2010) and his walks jumped to 75 (+17). Last season splitting time with Twins and Whitesox, his strikeout numbers went up with 167 strikeouts in 156.2 innings (+55 in 22.1 more innings than 2011) but the concern continues to be the walks as he had 87 walks in 2012.
By comparison, A.J. Burnett had just 62 walks in 201.1 innings and James McDonald who struggles at times in walking batters, had 69 walks in 171.1 innings.