Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 7/6/12
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.


GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Dwight Howard: ‘I have not asked the Rockets to trade me’

Nazem Kadri fined $5,000 for throat-slashing gesture

Hassan Whiteside suspended one game for elbowing Boban Marjanovic

Hornets’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has torn labrum

Report: Antonio Tarver suspended six months, fined $50,000 for positive test

Texans owner wants team to draft a top quarterback

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Subban undergoes larynx surgery, out at least eight weeks

Report: Raiders staying in Oakland for 2016 season

Cavaliers showing trade interest in Kings’ Ben McLemore

Report: Rockets shopping Dwight Howard

Jim Fassel takes issue with Cam Newton's warmup MVP cleats

Report: NFL upholds Vontaze Burfict’s three-game suspension

Von Miller likely to get franchise tag from Broncos

Barry J. Sanders transferring to Oklahoma State

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

USWNT start Olympic qualification in style by scoring in first 12 seconds

Magic Johnson wants Peyton Manning to join Rams

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

Franchise tag has been a useful tool for John Elway, Broncos

The 16 best NBA All-Star Game sneakers ever

Eight most potentially combustible MLB clubhouses

Matt Barnes coyly denies IG post was shot at Derek Fisher

NHLers who should be dealt to contenders before deadline

Robert Kraft compares Tom Brady to Peyton, Eli Manning

WATCH: Markieff Morris appears to flip the bird to heckler

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.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker