Originally written on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 7/6/13
Royals_vs_twins_adcf
Francisco Liriano is now 8-3 with a fantastic 2.20 ERA. (Photo Credit: David Hague) This is under “Pirates Game Recaps,” so allow me to recap by saying this was a great victory by the Pirates on both sides to get back on the winning side 6-2. If you are looking for more details because you didn’t watch the game and had other duties on Friday, neither did I. So we’re in the same boat. So let’s talk about Francisco Liriano, who worked his way to the first complete game of the Pirates’ season. After Liriano’s season debut nearly two months ago, in which he got 18 whiffs and 9 strikeouts, I said this: “If the Pirates make a run for the playoffs, it will be because Francisco Liriano is at least a shade of the dominant pitcher he once was.” Looks like I was wrong. Liriano is not a shade of the dominant pitcher, he is a dominant pitcher. Other than giving up a two-run homer to Scott Hairston, Liriano produced a sparking line: 9 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 K with 13 groundouts. Hairston’s home run was just the 4th allowed by Liriano all year, which would be the lowest rate of his career over a full season. That number is bound to regress with a few more long flyballs (as will his 84% strand rate), but it seems PNC Park’s ability to deflate home runs for right-handed hitters will keep Liriano from allowing one home run per nine innings like he had in recent years. Giving up fewer homers has to supply Liriano with the confidence to attack hitters. He is still giving up about eight hits per nine innings, but they are becoming more singles than doubles or home runs. His strikeout rate is higher than at any point since his phenomenal All-Star season of 2006. He is allowing far fewer walks and getting more ground balls. If Francisco Liriano is not a changed man on the mound, he is at least a much more effective one. He is striking out about one in every four hitters, which is a marked improvement from his last few seasons in the American League. Liriano’s fastball-changeup-slider trio is still very much nasty, and it appears hitters are swinging at more of his pitches outside the strike zone. Whether that fact is a result of Liriano exhibiting improved stuff or National League hitters’ lack of familiarity with Liriano is unclear, the results have been huge for the Pirates. Perhaps most importantly, Liriano is still just under 70 innings after the season’s midway point due to his injury. If he stays healthy, Liriano becomes a huge and (the Pirates hope) healthy part of the rotation in September beyond. If the Bucs need to win one game, like a late-season battle with the Cardinals or Reds, the Wild Card Coin-Flip or a playoff elimination game, Liriano would be as good a candidate to start as any. The Pirates certainly have the chance to be in another pennant race two months after Liriano’s debut. Every surprise playoff team strikes gold with at least one of their signings. It looks like the Bucs got two in the relatively inexpensive but devastatingly-good Russell Martin and Liriano. It wasn’t a no-hitter, but Liriano more than showed off his better abilities in his second-career complete game. He also did this, so…. holy crap.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Evander Kane wins back model girlfriend with billboard

Urban Meyer has 'feeling' who will start at QB

Report: Schilling to return to 'Sunday Night Baseball'

Report: Cardale Jones rushed to hospital with head pain

WATCH: Cubs' Baez swings so hard he falls down

WATCH: Boston host jokes Goodell should be murdered

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

WATCH: Mets get inside-the-park HR after OF flips over wall

Eli Manning remains unfazed about poor preseason

RG3 thinks 'Concussion' movie will 'make a lot of people mad'

Can Darrius Heyward-Bey replace Martavis Bryant for the first month in Pittsburgh?

Treon Harris to start at QB for Gators’ opening game

Marshawn Lynch campaigning for Seahawks to sign Fred Jackson

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

Top 10 storylines for Week 4 of the NFL preseason

Matt Williams is still hopelessly married to the idea of the closer’s role

Five unique CFB games to watch this weekend

Be careful what you wish for, Jay Gruden

Ryan taking leap of faith with Bills

Top 10 storylines for Week 1 of college football season

Underdogs: Hopefuls that can shock in the World Cup

Manfred digs Shoeless Joe a deeper grave

Why Mike Trout ain't right

The Opening Drive: Jamal Anderson warns UM fans before heading to Salt Lake City

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