Pittsburgh Pirates: Francisco Liriano Gives Them The Edge In Game 3 vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Francisco Liriano

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates will meet the St. Louis Cardinals for the third time in this National League Division Series, having forced a 1-1 split on the road. They’ll return to PNC Park, where they’ll roll with the man who has been, arguably, their best pitcher this season, and at a bargain price.

After an offseason injury, the Pirates and Liriano had to put a hold on the initial deal they had in place, before agreeing to a deal that cost the Pirates just $1 million for the year, and carries an option for the 2014 season as well. It could go down as one of the very best signings in the history of baseball.

Liriano has been absolutely dynamite throughout the season for the Pirates. He pitched to a 3.02 ERA, his best mark since that brilliant stretch in 2006. He tossed 161 innings for Pittsburgh, striking out 163 batters and walking 63, with an ERA+ of 117, also his best mark since 2006.

Regardless of what he had done against the Cardinals this season, you’d have to like Liriano going for Pittsburgh in Game 3. But when you consider his splits between what he’s done at PNC in comparison to what he’s done on the road, in addition to how well he’s fared against St. Louis this year, and you have to like the Bucs to take Game 3.

At home this season, Liriano has gone 8-1 (he’s 16-8 overall on the season). He’s posted a 1.47 ERA and a fantastic 0.964 WHIP at PNC Park. He’s been dominant there in the regular season, let alone when he’s feeding off of the energy from the postseason crowd. That’s in addition to the fact that he’s 3-0 against the Cardinals this year, with a 0.75 ERA, in three starts.

Liriano has been fantastic for Pittsburgh, any way you look at it. He’s a Cy Young candidate, which reflects an extremely impressive rebound, even if he doesn’t end up winning the award. The fact that he’s getting the start should make the Pirates Game 3 favorites, and could put them in the driver’s seat to eliminate their division rivals if all goes according to plan.

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