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Liriano Is Lost in the Cy Young World

Understanding that writers pen some articles purely for narrative is key. Jon Paul Morosi filed essentially a game report about the Rays/Yankees affair last night, framing the starting pitcher matchup as one of dueling Cy Young contenders. Nothing big to see here, but Morosi ropes Felix Hernandez into the mix so as to use a few quotes about how the Cy Young winner should come from a team in the playoff hunt performing well in games that matter.

If Morosi (and others) believe the latter requirement to be true, then their narrative should also expand its scope to include Francisco Liriano — who, like David Price and CC Sabathia, should shine as one of the game’s most excellent lefties on the postseason stage. Since the second half has begun – and let’s face it, if Liriano imploded afterwards, folks would say his season only excelled in the meaningless portions — Liriano has been better than his competitors. Even by old school means:

Liriano 10 GS, 7-0 W-L, 2.22 ERA, 2.95 SO/BB
Sabathia 12 GS, 7-3 W-L, 2.93 ERA, 2.78 SO/BB
Price 11 GS, 5-2 W-L, 3.28 ERA, 2.23 SO/BB

As many wins, lower ERA, and a better strikeout-to-walk ratio. Did these games matter? The Twins started the second half with a playoff probability just under 30% (according to CoolStandings.com) whereas Tampa Bay and New York had likelihoods over 75%. Three of Liriano’s post-break starts have come against the White Sox – the team battling Minnesota for the division crown – and he won each of them.

Liriano is not Ambrose Bierce. He is not getting lost in a revolutionary war between the ERA and FIP crowds because this season has all that and more. The innings gap is the only explainable reasoning for his absence; and even then, Liriano and Price’s innings totals are closer than Price’s and Sabathia’s. Small market, big payroll, fat stats, and a baby face; if everyone wants to give this award to a playoff-bound southpaw, why not give it to the one who combines the best aspects about Price and Sabathia’s stories?