Twins fans have seen this before from Francisco Liriano and now Pirates fans are seeing it too. Great. Terrible. Great. Terrible. Repeat as needed.
Liriano was a huge part of Pittsburgh’s rise to the playoffs last season, going 16-8 with a 3.02 ERA and 163 strikeouts in 161 innings on the way to the Comeback Player of the Year award. And now this season he’s 0-4 with a 4.86 ERA through 10 starts, serving up seven homers already after allowing a total of nine homers in 26 starts last year.
Compared to last season Liriano’s average fastball velocity is down from 93.0 miles per hour to 92.0 miles per hour, and both his slider and changeup are down about the same speed. However, he’s actually generating more ground balls and more swinging strikes than last season and his secondary numbers suggest he’s pitched more like a 3.50 ERA guy than a 4.86 ERA guy so far if luck were to even out.
Pittsburgh desperately needs Liriano to pitch like he did last season if they’re going to dig out of this early 18-26 hole and while he’s been frustrating to watch so far there’s reason to believe he can get back on track.
Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.
Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.
The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.
The Rangers have reportedly agreed to a six-year, $49.5 million extension for second baseman Rougned Odor, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The extension comes with a club option for a seventh year, Heyman adds.
It’s close to the six-year, $52.5 million extension Jason Kipnis netted with the Indians in 2014, a sum Odor was rumored to be seeking during contract negotiations over the last two years. Granted, the circumstances are a little different this time around. Both players signed extensions on the cusp of their fourth year in the major leagues, but at 27 years old, Kipnis was coming off of an All-Star campaign and a career-high 4.5 fWAR performance. Odor, meanwhile, saw mixed results in 2016, batting 33 home runs and putting up 2.0 fWAR while struggling to stay consistent at the plate and exhibiting poor defense.
According to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, Odor previously agreed to a $563,180 salary for 2017. Depending on when the extension kicks in, it should cover all three of Odor’s arbitration-eligible seasons and two seasons of potential free agency. The team has yet to confirm the extension.