Francisco Liriano Joins Pittsburgh Pirates Rotation

Jesse Johnson-USA Today Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates have officially activated left-handed pitcher Francisco Liriano off of the disabled list, and in a corresponding move they have optioned Duke Welker back to Triple-A Indianapolis after a short stint in the big leagues.

Welker, 27, is a relief pitcher that was drafted in 2007 and hadn’t seen the big leagues before earlier this week. Though he was recalled earlier in the week, he unfortunately didn’t see any playing time, even last night when the Pirates had a huge lead in the ninth inning.

Liriano will be starting today against the New York Mets.

In 2012, Liriano pitched to a 5.34 ERA in 156.2 innings. In those 156.2 innings, Liriano struck out 167 batters and allowed 87 walks. The Pirates clearly see something in him that shows he can be a bounce-back player, as he has struggled in his past few seasons.

Liriano’s best season came in 2010. He went 14-10 with a 3.62 ERA. He struck out 201 batters and only walked 58 in 191.2 innings pitched.

The Pirates are finally starting to get healthy, and Liriano is just the first step back to being completely healthy. Now the Pirates are waiting on fellow starting pitchers Charlie Morton and Jeff Karstens, as well as second baseman Neil Walker (should be back Sunday). Pirates catcher Russell Martin is also struggling with a stiff neck, and it is not known if he will end up hitting the disabled list. Just in case, the Pirates have brought top catching prospect Tony Sanchez to New York as they are playing the Mets. The Pirates have not activated Sanchez yet, so it appears unlikely at this point that Martin will be missing any extended period of time.

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