Tag: Francisco Liriano

Francisco Liriano

Pirates starters had a weekend of double-digit strikeout performances


With a fifth-inning strikeout of Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson, Pirates starter Francisco Liriano became the third Pirates starter to reach double-digit strikeouts in their weekend series. As the club’s Twitter pointed out, it’s the first time since September 1969 that three consecutive Pirates starters struck out 10-plus. The Pirates won 9-1 on Sunday to finish off a series sweep.

Here’s how the starters fared over the weekend:

  • Gerrit Cole, Friday: 8.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 10 K
  • A.J. Burnett, Saturday: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K
  • Francisco Liriano, Sunday: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 12 K
  • Total: 21.1 IP, 3 R (2 ER; 0.84 ERA), 3 BB, 32 K

With the sweep, the Pirates move to 21-22 and remain relevant in the NL Central. They’ll host the floundering Marlins for a three-game set starting Monday before heading out West on a road trip.

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

John Farrell Dustin Pedroia

Orioles 18, Red Sox 7: Scoring 18 runs is neat. Doing so with the benefit of only one homer — a solo shot — means this was less of a big walloping than it was a continued and sustained beating. Kudos to the Orioles for avoiding those rally-killing bombs for the most part. Seven Oriole batters had multiple hits and four had three hits. Delmon Young drove in five runs and three others drove in three runs each. The Red Sox’ collective starting rotation ERA is 5.75. Which isn’t good, in case you were curious.

Yankees 6, Mets 4: A-Rod homered — he’s one away from Willie — and the Yankees took two of three in the Subway Series. Which means, based on the coverage I saw about all of this late last week, they now officially own New York. The Mets will sign over the deed to Citi Field in a noontime ceremony today. All persons identifying as Mets fans in the city, please report to the Javits Center for reeducation.

Phillies 5, Braves 4: Ryan Howard hit a homer for the second straight game as Philly takes two of three from Atlanta. Major League Baseball officials will meet in New York today to see if the second one counts, however, as it came against Trevor Cahill, who is under investigation for being a secret agent embedded with the Braves to bring them down from the inside. An alternative theory is that he’s really two kids, one on the other’s shoulders, in a trench coat disguised to look like a Braves uniform. That’s my theory anyway.

White Sox 3, Royals 2White Sox 5, Royals 3: Avisail Garcia with the walkoff single. Which, since it came at the conclusion of a game that was suspended in the ninth inning and had thus just resumed, probably felt a tad less climactic than these sorts of things tend to be. In the second, full game David Robertson got the save. After having won the resumed game, which he began. Meaning he threw the first and last pitch of the day. Which sort has my mind all blown up in here.

Tigers 8, Indians 6: I was at various stores and bars and places over the weekend and everywhere I went seemed to have a Tigers-Indians game on. I didn’t really watch a lot, but as I looked up from my lunch or a beer or while paying for a shirt or something at a cash register, it seemed like Cleveland was giving Cabrera an intentional walk. Probably wise. In this one he homered and drove in three. He has three homers on the year, all against the Indians.

Pirates 8, Diamondbacks 0: Francisco Liriano and the pen combined to toss a three-hitter. Liriano walked six as he did it, but sometimes even hitters are at a disadvantage if the pitcher doesn’t know where the ball’s going. The Pirates rapped out 14 hits. Which is a term I love. “rapped out.” I get a mental image of the Pirates on a stage, “Super Bowl Shuffle”-style, saying “We’re the Pittsburgh Pirates and we’re here to say . . .” Remember when sports teams did that stuff? Holy crap.

Cubs 5, Reds 2: Addison Russell started the season 2 for 19 with 11 strikeouts, but maybe his double with the bases loaded in the fourth inning, clearing the bases, will kickstart him. Or maybe it’ll take a while. I dunno, he’s a kid. Think about what you were like when you were 21. My god, we were all awful at everything when we were 21.

Marlins 6, Nationals 2: I’m not the alarmist type. I’ve seen enough baseball to where an otherwise good team struggling in April turned it around and, come August, people had forgotten all about that poor start. But the Nationals were supposed to be good a couple of years ago and never got off the ground so I imagine some Washington fans are a tad concerned. This game finished off the sweep by the Marlins, giving them their fifth win in a row. Giancarlo Stanton hit an RBI triple. And he scored after literally crawling back to third base, because fundamentals:


I feel like I’ve seen more messed up rundowns so far this season than I’ve seen in the past three seasons combined.

Rays 5, Blue Jays 1: The sweep continues Toronto’s futility at Tropicana Field. Which is weird because it’s the one ballpark in which they can maybe squint a bit and feel like they’re back in Rogers Centre. Chris Archer tossed seven shutout innings. He hasn’t allowed an earned run since his first start of the season, back on April 6.

Brewers 6, Cardinals 3: The Cardinals stranded eight runners in the first three innings and 14 overall. If hitting with men on was a special St. Louis skill like so many Cards fans insisted to me a couple of years ago when their RISP average was super high, maybe they’d have done better  here. Absent that, I’m gonna say that maybe there’s some luck involved in all of that.

Rangers 5, Angels 4: Less of a series than a meeting between mom and dad to swap custody of Josh Hamilton. The Rangers salvage one in the three-game series here. Leonys Martin hit a homer in the 11th and the Rangers scored a second run, which proved necessary, on an error.

Astros 7, Athletics 6: The win came on a two-run rally in the ninth when Evan Gattis hit a two-run double on a pitch up in his eyes. The A’s had walked Jed Lowrie to load the bases and get to Gattis, but he showed them. The Astros swept the A’s. Houston is in first place in the AL West.

Twins 4, Mariners 2: Joe Mauer with a two-run triple with two outs in the 11th. It was hit hard and likely falls in against anyone, but it’s probably not crazy to say that a better right fielder than Nelson Cruz at least gets to that ball faster, takes an angle that allows him to cut it off and doesn’t let it roll to the wall. Maybe it doesn’t matter, but I feel like M’s fans are gonna be dealing with the tradeoffs Nelson Cruz creates all season.

Padres 3, Dodgers 1Alexi Amarista and Derek Norris homered to help the Padres avoid the sweep and their fourth straight loss. Brandon Morrow allowed one run on five hits over seven innings.

Giants vs. Rockies: POSTPONED: The rain came down

Soaked the old habachi
And I wish I could sing, like allen callaci
And then you would know
How sad it was, when the rain came down

Drop by drop
Gallon by gallon
Brother if I could sing,
If I could sing like allen
You would know
And understand how sad it was when the rain came down

Pirates place Francisco Liriano on paternity leave list

Pittsburgh Pirates v Cincinnati Reds
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The Pirates announced this evening that left-hander Francisco Liriano has been placed on the paternity leave list. Liriano’s wife, Johanna, gave birth to their fourth child yesterday, so he’ll take some time away from the team.

Liriano allowed two runs over seven innings on Opening Day against the Reds on Monday and was scheduled to start Sunday against the Brewers. However, he’s been scratched and will make his return on Wednesday against the Tigers.

The Pirates have called up right-hander Casey Sadler to make the spot start tomorrow.

2015 Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates

mccutchen hurdle getty

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up: The Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Big Question: Can the Bucs make a third consecutive trip to the postseason?

In 2013, the Pirates snapped a painful 20-year October drought and advanced through the National League Wild Card Game to the NLDS, where they lost in five games to the division-rival Cardinals.

In 2014, the Pirates made it back to the National League Wild Card Game but fell to the eventual World Series-champion Giants.

Postseason baseball is an expectation now in Pittsburgh, and this 2015 group looks amply equipped to keep the tradition going. Let’s start with the outfield, which might be baseball’s best …

Andrew McCutchen, starting center fielder, has finished top three in the National League MVP voting each of the last three seasons. He posted a career-high and National League-leading 168 OPS+ in 2014 and he doesn’t turn 29 years old until October 10, 2015. A good defender to boot, “Cutch” is probably the second-best overall position player in the major leagues. Starling Marte, the Pirates’ 26-year-old starting left fielder, batted .291/.356/.453 with 13 home runs and 30 stolen bases in 135 games last season. He’s getting better every year, and the Pirates have him under contract through at least 2019 at a very team-friendly rate. Gregory Polanco, right field, was ranked a top 10 prospect by Baseball America before the 2014 season. He struggled in 89 games as a rookie, but well-built 23-year-old has all the tools to become a star.

These three can hit, field, and they’re all in or very near their baseball prime.

In the starting rotation the Pirates also have a couple of building blocks: Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano. Cole battled a right lat injury in 2014 that limited him to 138 regular-season innings, but it shouldn’t be a lingering thing and he has looked sharp this spring in the Grapefruit League. The former No. 1 overall pick (2011, out of UCLA) boasts a 3.45 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 8.4 K/9 through his first 255 1/3 career major league innings. He’s only 24 years old and under club control through 2019. Liriano was the biggest bargain of the offseason, re-signing with the Pirates for three years and $39 million in a free agent market where Ervin Santana scored four years, $55 million. Liriano has delivered a 3.20 ERA and 9.4 K/9 in 55 starts over the last two seasons with Pittsburgh. He’s only 31 years old — the same age as $155 million man Jon Lester.

It’s a strong core, and with a few surprises from other players on the roster the Pirates should be in the mix all year for another Wild Card spot and maybe even the National League Central title.

What else is going on?

  • Francisco Liriano has never pitched more than 200 innings in a season, and neither has Gerrit Cole. Pittsburgh will be hoping that changes in 2015 because the rest of the rotation is a little bit iffy. A.J. Burnett left money on the table to sign with the Bucs this offseason and he had great success in 2012-2013 under Pirates coaching coach Ray Searage — the new go-to reclamation project guru — but the 38-year-old righty posted a rough 4.59 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 34 starts last summer with the Phillies. He might be beyond saving. Charlie Morton had a pedestrian 96 ERA+ in 2014 and Vance Worley is due for some serious regression after managing a 2.85 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in his first 110 2/3 innings with the Bucs.
  • Top pitching prospects Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow may be able to provide some help in the second half. Taillon, the No. 29 prospect on Baseball America’s latest Top 100, is on his way back from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. He’s expected to start pitching in minor league games in May. Glasnow, No. 16 on Baseball America’s Top 100, hasn’t appeared in a game above High-A ball but looks to be a fast-riser. Baseball Prospectus recently ranked the Pirates’ farm system eighth overall.
  • Josh Harrison broke out in 2014 just as Pedro Alvarez’s defensive issues at third base began to boil over. Alvarez has been moved into a first-base platoon with Corey Hart and Harrison enters 2015 as the starter at the hot corner. Harrison was a 2014 National League All-Star and even earned MVP votes after batting .315/.347/.490 with 13 home runs and 18 stolen bases in 143 games. The 27-year-old began the 2014 season as a utilityman. It was quite a rise, though his past numbers suggest he is in for a dropoff.
  • Losing catcher Russell Martin to free agency leaves a sting, but the Pirates did pretty well to fill the void in acquiring Francisco Cervelli from the Yankees last November for lefty reliever Justin Wilson. Cervelli, 29, has batted .293/.372/.449 in 223 plate appearances over the last two seasons and is decent defensively. He shouldn’t be expected to carry that kind of batting line over a full starter’s slate, but something remotely close would be great. Cervelli is hitting very well in the Grapefruit League this spring.
  • Jung Ho Kang drew interest from a range of Major League Baseball teams this winter after hitting .356/.459/.739 with 40 home runs and 117 RBI in 117 games last season for the Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization. But it was the Pirates who landed him with a $5,002,015 posting fee and four-year, $11 million major league contract. Kang was a superstar in South Korea, and the usually-frugal Pittsburgh front office surprised a lot of people by nabbing him off the international market. $16 million isn’t a big amount of money for most clubs, but it is for the Pirates. Kang, 27, is expected to open the 2015 season in a utility infield role. If his defense is good enough, he could eventually steal playing time from shortstop Jordy Mercer, who batted .255 with a .305 on-base percentage in 2014.

Prediction: McCutchen, Marte, and Polanco will help lead the Pirates to a second place finish in the National League Central and a third straight appearance in the National League Wild Card Game.

Francisco Liriano named Opening Day starter by the Pirates

francisco liriano getty

Francisco Liriano, who re-signed with the Pirates for three years and $39 million this offseason, has been named the team’s Opening Day starter for the second straight season.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle also announced that Gerrit Cole and A.J. Burnett will follow him in the rotation. Charlie Morton and either Vance Worley or Jeff Locke will grab the other two spots.

Liriano got off to a poor start last year, but then posted a 2.20 ERA with 94 strikeouts in 86 innings after the All-Star break.