Francisco Liriano Very Good Again For Pittsburgh Pirates

By Zach Morrison
Jesse Johnson-USA Today Sports

When the Pittsburgh Pirates signed Francisco Liriano over the winter, I didn’t really know what to think.

Part of me was super excited, while another part of me was skeptical of what the left-hander could actually bring to the Pirates. After a controversial winter that saw the hurler break his non-pitching arm while allegedly trying to scare his kids on Christmas morning, Liriano is finally in the thick of things with the Pirates after missing the entire first month of the 2013 season.

This just in: Liriano is really good.

I keep telling myself to calm down, it’s only three starts. However, his three starts have been pure domination. Through 18 innings, Liriano is now 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA and 25 strikeouts. He has allowed only 14 hits and six walks. For most pitchers, six walks in 18 innings is a bit high, but for Liriano, it’s a bit better than his career 3.8 BB/9.

The main concern I had with Liriano was his control, and it really hasn’t been all that bad. Even when he is walking batters, he is striking enough guys out to make the walks not even matter. Before tonight’s start, Liriano had been pitching to a 13.1 K/9, which is just ridiculous.

In the past few years, Liriano had become a very bad pitcher. However, he started his career very well. In 2006, the lefty went 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. In 2010, Liriano posted a 14-10 record with a 3.62 ERA.

Initially, I had hopes that Liriano could return to his numbers he put up early in his career; now, I hope he can continue this success and improve on his previous best seasons.

There is only one thing I don’t approve of with Liriano, and it isn’t even his fault: Pirates manager Clint Hurdle seems to think Liriano isn’t capable of throwing over 100 pitches. The left-hander pitched seven two-hit innings against the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night, and Hurdle pulled him because he had thrown 91 pitches.

If this was a young pitcher or a top prospect, I would understand. However, Liriano is a veteran pitcher that has probably thrown over 100 pitches many times in his career. Hurdle doesn’t like to let his starters go deep into games for some reason, and the bullpen will suffer from it.

The bullpen has been great so far, but wait until September and see how the bullpen arms feel then. You’ll see, Hurdle. You’ll see.

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