Francisco Liriano’s signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates was originally reported in December, but was did not become official until February after it was discovered he had an injury to his right arm. The injury delayed the left-hander’s debut for the Pirates a bit, and he posted a 4.15 ERA with a 33:4 K/BB ratio over five rehab outings before making his first start of 2013 against the New York Mets on May 11.
Liriano pitched well against the Mets, lasting 5.1 innings and allowing one run on six hits along with nine strikeouts and two walks. His second start came this past Thursday against the Milwaukee Brewers, and Liriano again pitched well, allowing one run on six hits with seven strikeouts and three walks over 5.2 innings. Liriano’s pitch counts have been a bit elevated, with 90 and 98 in each start respectively, but otherwise his numbers (1.64 ERA, 16 strikeouts and five walks) have been good.
The smooth transition to the National League could be expected for Liriano, as he has spent his entire career to this point in the American League with the Minnesota Twins mostly before finishing the 2012 season with the Chicago White Sox. For what it’s worth, Liriano’s next scheduled start is against the Chicago Cubs next Wednesday and he has made one start (allowing four runs over 5.2 innings) against them in his career.
Liriano’s track record of inconsistency suggests the level he has shown through his first two outings this season is not sustainable, creating a challenge for fantasy baseball owners. But his ownership percentage is quickly rising in Yahoo! leagues, currently at 32 percent, and those in NL-only and deep mixed leagues can consider him a worthy waiver wire addition while he is pitching well. Just be ready to cut ties if hitters in the Senior Circuit catch up with him and his results begin to suffer.