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10/26/1983 (33 y, 3 m, 26 d)
$39M / 3 Years (2015 - 2017)
Liriano, under the guidance of Toronto pitching coach Pete Walker, has worked on adjusting his release point to match what he'd done during his most successful years in Pittsburgh, SB Nation reports. (2/18/2017)
Early ADP Thoughts – Starting Pitcher, Part II
Paul Sporer (RotoGraphs)
Sunday Notes: Eaton, Liriano, Cueto, Cubs, Postsea»
David Laurila (FanGraphs)
An Argument for Saving Francisco Liriano
Eno Sarris (FanGraphs)
Francisco Liriano Made a Ballsy Decision
Jeff Sullivan (FanGraphs)
Pirates Shed Salary at the Cost of Two Prospects
August Fagerstrom (FanGraphs)
(Click Year to Expand /
Year in Review:
Liriano had a poor year after his solid 2008, which was his first year back from Tommy John surgery after his amazing 2006. In 136 innings in ’09, he had a 5.80 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP. He struck out batters at a healthy rate (8.03 K/9), but walked too many batters (4.28 BB/9) and gave up too many homers (1.38 HR/9). Still, some of the results were just bad luck, as his BABIP (.324) and HR/FB (12.5%) were above his career average. Liriano gained just shy of 1 mph on his average fastball compared to 2008 (91.7 versus 90.9), but it is still much slower than it was pre-Tommy John (94.7 mph, although some of those innings were from the bullpen). In September, the Twins team, which was locked in a close playoff race, pushed Liriano to the ‘pen based on his poor results and the acquisition of veteran hurler Carl Pavano. Liriano also missed time on the DL with recurring elbow problems.
The Year Ahead:
Liriano is coming off a year with the worst results of his career, and questions remain about his ability to stay healthy for a whole year. Still, some of the poor results were bad-luck based. He has regained some velocity on his fastball and, when healthy, he still strikes out lots of batters. This makes him a clear high-risk, high-reward player. If he can stay healthy and regain some control, he could be a 10-win, 3.75-ERA, 1.30-WHIP pitcher with 160 strikeouts in 175 innings. On the other hand, he could be injured most of the year or have a bloated ERA and WHIP from his high walk rate. If your starting rotation can take the risk, and he is on the board in the middle rounds, Liriano would be a solid pick. (Dave Allen)
On a per-inning basis, it was hard to find a better pitcher in 2010 than Francisco Liriano. He struck out over a batter per inning while waking only 2.7 batters per nine innings and conceding fewer than 0.5 home runs per nine innings. That resulted in a tremendous 2.66 FIP, third best in the league, but the results to become an elite fantasy pitcher just weren't there. Liriano finished with a 3.66 ERA, a 14-10 record, a 1.26 WHIP, and 201 strikeouts, the only really elite number of the bunch. Of course, Liriano is still young (27 for the entire regular season) and he could benefit from some BABIP regression (.340 in 2010). The key will be whether or not he can manage longer starts. His stuff is good enough and Target Field large enough that we should continue to see Liriano post good home-run-suppression numbers. Basically, Liriano has to find a way to get his BABIP down to normal levels. If that happens, he will allow fewer runs, log more innings, and really step into his place as one of the elite pitchers in the Major Leagues. That potential is there, and even if it's not realized this season, Liriano should be good for 180+ high quality innings, with a mid-3.00s ERA and a ton of strikeouts. (Jack Moore)
The Quick Opinion:
Liriano was an elite starting pitcher in 2010, but there's still room to grow. If he can throw more innings, he can move into a class all his own.
One year after making a run at the AL Cy Young Award, Liriano was back to being an injury-prone enigma in 2011. Shoulder ailments landed him on the disabled list on two occasions, and when he was on the mound he pitched to a 5.09 ERA and a 4.54 FIP in 134.1 IP. The strikeouts dropped (career-low 7.50 per nine), the walks rose (career-high 5.02 walks per nine), and the runs kept crossing the plate as his defense didn't really help him out any (67.2% strand rate). Liriano is one of those guys who uses a high percentage of sliders (like Brad Lidge and Brett Anderson), which seems to take a toll on the arm more than any other single pitch. With low expectations and free agency approaching, Liriano will be undervalued on draft day, and there aren't many better arms to roll the dice on in the late rounds of a draft since he isn't that far off from his Cy Young caliber campaign. If the Twins don't contend, he's a prime midseason trade candidate, which could impact his fantasy value. (Mike Axisa)
The Quick Opinion:
Liriano is an enigma, but he's also likely to be undervalued on draft day. He's just one year removed from a Cy Young caliber season, and it's primarily a question about health. With free agency coming, Liriano could be trade bait at midseason.
In 2011, Francisco Liriano battled shoulder inflammation. He went on to post the lowest strikeout rate of his career. His velocity was off significantly. With a 5.09 ERA and just a 19% strikeout rate, it seemed like we could finally close the book on the pitcher who flirted with a Cy Young performance just a year before. 2012 only proved to add to the confusion with Liriano. His velocity was back, and in a big way, averaging over 93 mph. His strikeouts were back with a 24.1% K rate, better than his career 23.5%. Yet, his control was as bad as it's ever been and although his signature slider was still an effective pitch, his runs allowed on both fastballs registered well below league average. He's still preventing great contact and inducing high swinging-strike numbers, but until Liriano can figure out where the ball is going, he is going to be consistently frustrating to fantasy owners. Now a Pittsburgh Pirate, Liriano is seeking to pull an A.J. Burnett and resurrect his career. PNC park is a friendlier place to pitch than what he experienced in Minnesota and far better than U.S. Cellular. Even better, PNC suppresses home runs by right-handed batters that could come in particularly handy for Liriano since 18 of the 19 home runs he gave up last year were versus righties. With a move to the National League, you might also expect Liriano to see an uptick in strikeouts as well, although if the pitchers simply stand there he might just wind up walking them too. Don't completely ignore him on draft day, but certainly don't have high expectations either.
The Quick Opinion:
Now a Pirate, Liriano moves to a park that is a little more friendly than what he was used to in Minnesota and a whole lot more friendly than Chicago. Yet, having steady work doesn't mitigate that Liriano is as consistently inconsistent as ever. His fastball is back, his strikeouts are up and he keeps hitters from making good contact, but that might be because Liriano has as much of an idea where the ball is going as the opposing hitter does. Until the control issues are addressed and remedied, Liriano isn't going to be useful.
Last season's Comeback Player of the Year has a history of erratic performance, which makes it hard to be comfortable targeting him in 2014. Liriano has seen his strikeout and walk rates bounce around about as wildly as any pitcher in the big leagues. Obviously, last season was a good one, he struck out 24.5% of batters and walked 9.5%. A lot of his trouble over the years has been attributed to unstable mechanics and tinkering. There is some talk that his mechanics are more consistent now, but this isn't the first time we've heard that narrative in connection with Liriano. He's a three-pitch pitcher, with a fastball, slider, and change up. The slider is a big piece of his repertoire and he uses it over 30% of the time. Heavy slider usage is associated with increased injury risk. He's entering his age-30 season, so prospective owners should be careful about the various risks associated with him. It's most correct to project mild regression from last season's stats, but he could also collapse completely. He's a wild card. (Brad Johnson)
The Quick Opinion:
Liriano is perhaps the most inconsistent successful pitcher of his generation. It's rare to see a pitcher go from dominant to terrible to dominant as many times as Liriano has. That makes handicapping him a dangerous and possibly pointless game. Tread carefully.
After a disastrous couple of years in the American League back in 2011 and 2012, a move to the National League and pitcher-friendly Pittsburgh was just what Liriano needed to see his fortunes turn. His grounder ability returned and the strong Pirates bullpen ensured that his inherited runners would remain stranded, sparking a rebound in his strand rate. He still has trouble finding the plate, as evidenced by a major league low zone percentage, but that may be by design. He ranked 28th in reach rate, so hitters are certainly chasing those balls outside the zone. He also allowed the lowest contact rate outside the zone in baseball, so they have had major difficulties actually putting those balls in play. Why throw strikes when balls work nearly as effectively? A high walk rate means he's unlikely to contribute positive value in WHIP, and since he hasn't thrown more than 163 innings since 2010, his counting stats are not going to excite. But, he remains in a good situation with the Pirates and should comfortably earn mixed league value once again. (
The Quick Opinion:
A move to Pittsburgh has been a boon to Liriano's fantasy value, as his ground balls have returned and his LOB% has rebounded. While he's a poor bet to reach even just 180 innings, he should remain a good source of ERA and strikeouts when he's on the mound.
Francisco Liriano induced 22 double plays by ground-out in 2015, good for ninth-most in baseball. This helps illuminate two facts: (1) Liriano induces many a ground ball, and (2) Liriano allows many a base runner. His propensity to walk batters likely frustrates some fantasy owners, the present author included. Those with the assiduity to appreciate Liriano's results and tolerate his flaws know that he has been pretty good the past three years. If precision is your thing: since his profoundly horrible 2012 season, Liriano has posted a 3.26 ERA and 1.24 WHIP despite a walk rate north of 10%. He can get a bit frisky with the strike zone -- to attest, his zone percentage last year ranked dead last among all qualified starters. But sometimes, for ground ball pitchers, it's all in the line of duty. Fact of the matter is Liriano keeps getting the job done, thanks entirely to elite strikeout and ground ball rates. He can be maddening at times, yes. The walk rate could spike again like it did in 2014, and he hasn't proven himself durable, making 30 or more starts only twice in the last six years. Regardless, Liriano deserves to be in the position's top-25 conversation. Bonus points if he finally throws 200 innings. (Alex Chamberlain)
The Quick Opinion:
Three years removed from his 2012 eyesore, Francisco Liriano has delivered elite strikeout and ground ball rates en route to underrated fantasy value. Despite the volatile walk rate and his inability to eclipse the 200-inning threshold, he threatens top-25 value among starting pitchers.
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Updated: Tuesday, February 21, 2017 3:32 AM ET
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