Pirates’ Francisco Liriano Enters 2014 With More Pressure Than Ever

Francisco Liriano

Charles LeClaire – USA TODAY Sports

Going into the 2013 MLB regular season, the Pittsburgh Pirates really weren’t sure what to expect from starting pitcher Francisco Liriano. Pittsburgh took a flier on Liriano after he looked semi-productive with the Chicago White Sox toward the end of 2012. Moreover, the Pirates were rewarded for their risk as Liriano finished 2013 with a 3.02 ERA in 161.0 innings — both of which were nearly career highs for the now 30-year-old.

However, anyone who is banking on Liriano to have a similar season is downright foolish. In eight years at the big-league level, Liriano has not once poured in consecutive years with an ERA below 4.00. In fact, the Pirates’ starter posted an ERA above 5.00 for two straight seasons prior to signing with Pittsburgh.

Also, Liriano no longer has the option of hiding behind A.J. Burnett as the Pirates’ number-one starter. Instead, on Tuesday Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle decided to name Liriano the team’s opening day starter for 2014. With that kind of honor comes a lot of responsibility. Now, Liriano will be pinned up against aces like Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg and Adam Wainwright more often than not.

So as the journeyman starting pitcher embarks on his ninth MLB season, keep in mind the added pressure that the inconsistent Liriano will be forced to deal with in 2014.

See: Pittsburgh Pirates Can’t Rely On Francisco Liriano Being Great in 2014

Devin O’Barr is the Content Commentator for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @DevinOBarrRS, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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  • TampaScotty

    So if not Liriano, then which starter? Gerrit Cole? Wandy Rodriguez? Charlie Morton? Edinson Volquez? Brandon Cumpton? Jameson Taillon? Jeff Locke? Your article implies they had better options they didnt choose? He had a 3.02 ERA and 16 wins. Who else on that list do you hand the ball to?? He just turned 30, and still is an effective pitcher. Afraid might not be able to continue his success? Maybe. But, pitchers sometimes have the ah-hah moment later in their careers, or even has a renaisaance, like Bartolo Colon has had for the A’s.

    You say he shouldn’t be the opening day starter. But, dont say why or who should be if not him. Just speculate he wont do well, and that’s it? And journeyman is someone who constantly hops teams. This is his 3rd team, playing 7 of his 9 years in Minnesota previously. He played one year in CWS before coming to Pittsburgh.

    This article could have been just a bad twitter feed saying ” Liriano starting Opening Day. Really?”. Because, that’s all the insight this article gives…