When was the last time a starting pitching with an ERA of 1.75 and a 4-2 record has been virtually ignored by the fans, sports media and baseball world in general?
Franciso Liriano is the invisible man.
After signing the former Minnesota Twin as a free agent this past winter, the Pittsburgh Pirates were hoping the former 2010 AL Comeback Player of the Year, who would also toss a no-hitter one year later, would regain his former prowess and become a competent starter in the Pirates’ rotation this year. Despite a freak non-throwing arm injury just before the winter signing that cost him more than a month’s pitching time to start the season, not to mention a better contract deal, Liriano has done much more than that, arguably pitching some of the best baseball of his spotted seven-year pitching career. But who’s noticing?
With the emergence of the Pirates’ pitching staff as one of the best in the game, culminating with first-round pick Gerrit Cole‘s recent much-anticipated MLB pitching debut, Liriano has almost been an afterthought. Despite having one of his least-effective outings and allowing four earned-runs in six innings work in game two of a hitter’s parade against the San Francisco Giants won by the Pirates 12-8 Wednesday night in Pittsburgh, Liriano has been pitching lights out. Until the aforementioned sub-par, yet still-winning performance, only once had Liriano allowed more than one run in game he’d started. Yet, hardly a peep gets peeped when the team’s pitching gets mentioned, despite his now notching his fifth win in just seven starts. Also, the 29-year-old left-hander from the Dominican Republic has not allowed a homerun this season; a problem that more-often-than-not plagued him during his Twins’ pitching days.
Perhaps the anonymity has helped Liriano’s performance. For much of his time with Minnesota, he was expected to be “the man”, the stopper, the ace of the staff. With the pitchers the Pirates have now, he’s just “one the guys”, there’s no pressure to carry the team, he’s free to be himself.
Francisco Liriano is the invisible man.
I’m sure he and the Pirates are just fine with that. I mean, who can hit an invisible man’s pitches?