Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/17/14
Mlb-rays-twins-jul

When Francisco Liriano shut down the Athletics in his return to the starting rotation, many dismissed it as just one start, and one against the Athletics at that. Instead, Liriano has taken that start and ran with it, and six starts later he looks reborn. There could hardly be a bigger difference between Liriano’s first five starts and his last seven:

First five starts:
26.2 IP, 37 H, 30 R, 28 ER, 21 K, 19 BB, 6 HR

Last seven starts:
42.2 IP, 25 H, 15 R, 14 ER, 46 K, 18 BB, 1 HR

I wrote following his return start against Oakland that the key for Liriano would be to keep his pitches down. His constant high misses resulted in both walks and home runs over his first five starts. Indeed, over the past seven starts his pitches have largely clustered inside the zone and below it, not above it:

To make the point a little more clear, let’s focus on those high pitches, three feet or higher above the ground:

Despite throwing far more pitches (680 to 504) in his last seven starts, we see fewer pitches (74 to 105) above three feet over the plate. Liriano let 13 go over four feet — six inches above the zone on most hitters — in his first five starts, whereas just four leaked over that mark in his last seven.

These are not pitchers swing and miss at. Even now, hitters are swinging and missing at less than five percent of Liriano’s high pitches out of the zone. Now he’s avoiding this area and either hitting the strike zone or missing low, an excellent trade-off: hitters are whiffing on 16.75% of his pitches below the strike zone.

Unfortunately, we still don’t have enough data to say Liriano has cured his wildness. Liriano has faced just 172 batters over his last seven starts. That’s enough to say his strikeout rate has stabilized, but not nearly enough to say he’ll stop walking batters. Walks per plate appearance for pitchers doesn’t stabilize until 550 batters faced.

Still, both the macro and micro signs are very encouraging on Liriano. He has another start Friday night against the Rangers, one that many buying teams will have eyes on. If he can continue to stay low with his pitches, the Twins will have themselves an extremely attractive asset on their hands come the trade deadline.


MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: No NFL team is moving to Los Angeles in 2015

Report: 49ers looking for young, offensive mind as next coach

Sheldon Richardson: I'm on the same level as JJ Watt

Kendrick Perkins: Rajon Rondo wanted out of Boston

Report: Jim Harbaugh being encouraged to take Michigan job

Three quarterbacks who could be traded this offseason

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Wolves trade Corey Brewer to the Rockets

Yankees trade Prado to Marlins for Eovaldi in 5-player deal

Brandon Browner fined $8K for throwing Brandon Gibson to turf

Report: Sharper, NFLers called spiked drinks 'horny juice'

Rex Ryan: My wife could coach Tom Brady

Jim Harbaugh won in laser tag by 'hunting' 10-year-old kid

Peyton Siva jokes that Rick Pitino is in the mob

WATCH: Montrezl Harrell ejected for throwing punch

UNC wearing Jordan-era throwback uniforms

Brian Kelly: Justin Brent gets 'distracted,' is in my doghouse

Five free agent signings that should happen in 2015

Reporter asks Rajon Rondo awkward question about trade

Video: Swaggy P elbows Steven Adams in throat, gets ejected

Video: Grizzlies buy car for assistant who had his stolen

Video: LeBron takes pass to the face from Dion Waiters

New video of Ray Rice incident emerges

President Obama calls James Franco “James Flacco”

NBA games of the weekend: Rondo's Dallas debut, Bulls-Grizz

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

No NFL team in LA next season?

UNC rocking Jordan-era throwbacks

Reporter asks Rondo awkward question

Three quarterbacks who could be traded this offseason

Jon Lester and the Cubs

Report: NFL players used 'horny juice'

Top 10 worst NBA related commercials of all-time

Phelps gets probation for DUI

NFL coaches on hot seat in Week 16

The Roy Williams-Terrell Owens horse collar turns 10

Most underpaid NFL players in 2014

Gronk jokes about Brady compliment

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.