By Jason Shetler
As I reflect on the thought of the Pirates now having three consecutive winning seasons, I can’t help but think that the success of Francisco Liriano in these last three seasons remains overlooked by the national media. Whether you turn on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight or watch the shows on MLB Network, you seldom hear Liriano’s name mentioned as one of the better pitchers in the National League. As I get ready to channel my inner Brian Kenny, here are some stats that may convince you that Francisco Liriano is a very superb starting pitcher.
2013-2015: 3.26 ERA, 113 ERA+, 3.23 FIP, 51% GB rate, 9.3 K/9 in 86 starts.
Since joining the Pirates rotation in 2013, Liriano has been putting up ace type numbers. Both the ERA and ERA+ are very good while his Fielding Independent Pitching is right in line with the ERA, so he really hasn’t needed luck to be successful. Not many starters have the ability to induce groundballs and rack up strikeouts consistently, but Liriano can do both really well.
As mentioned, Liriano has a 9.3 K/9 since 2013. It’s the third best ratio in that span among NL starters behind Clayton Kershaw and Stephen Strasburg. Liriano has also been extremely tough to hit in that stretch, posting a 7.4 H/9. That ratio is second best behind only Clayton Kershaw. So while you may think that Liriano is just a good veteran pitcher, he’s more than just good, he’s been elite over the past few seasons, and deserves much more attention that he hasn’t been getting.