Originally written on Fantasy Baseball 365  |  Last updated 10/20/14
On the day of Liriano's start against the Chicago Cubs, now seems as good of time as any to take a look at his hot last two starts.  After a short stint in the bullpen to right the ship, he has come out guns blazing.  In his last two starts, he has pitched 12 innings allowing one earned run, walking three and striking out 17.  Those two starts have helped him lower his ERA and WHIP to 6.46 and 1.74 respectively.  As those numbers would suggest, he was putrid to start the year.  So what should owners make of Liriano's recent run?
First, let's look at the good.  In his last two starts he has limited the walks, while racking up strikeouts, resulting in a 5.67 strikeout-to-walk rate.  In addition to the juicy walk and strikeout rates, he is keeping the ball on the ground with a 48 percent groundball rate.  In terms of controllable stats, Liriano has done an excellent job in his last two starts.  From a stuff stand point, he has been very impressive as well.  His four-seam fastball and sinker averaged just a bit over 92 mph in his May 30 turn, and were up a few more ticks to just over 94 mph in his June 5 start hitting as high 96 mph.  His change-up is sitting at a velocity nearly 10 mph slower than his heater.  It hasn't been a pitch he has used often, having thrown it only 11 times in the two starts combined, and it hasn't been a big swing-and-miss offering, with just one whiff, but it is a pitch that he can use to change speeds and keep hitters off balance.  His truly filthy pitch that he has used to dominate batters is his slider.  He has thrown the pitch 70 times in his last two starts, giving him a 38 percent usage rate in that time span.  Of those 70 sliders, 21 resulted in whiffs, or in other words, an astonishing 30 percent drew empty swings.  Beyond the 21 whiffs, he has added another 32 strikes.  In all, 53 of 70 sliders were strikes, good for a 75.7 percent strike rate.  People who are fans of visual proof should check out the gif in Sam Miller's fun piece at Baseball Prospectus.  So what isn't there to like?

The first, and most obvious, is that it is only two starts.  Many pitchers have looked good in back-to-back starts.  Also, if you have been observant, you've noticed that I haven't named his opponents.  Liriano faced the A's and Royals in his return from the bullpen.  The A's rank 28th in runs scored in the majors, and the Royals rank 25th in runs scored.  That's two really bad offenses.  Beyond not scoring runs, Paul Sporer pointed out on Twitter that those two offenses struggle against left-handed pitching.  With those facts in mind, there are reasons to tread cautiously in regards to Liriano.  He has yet another favorable matchup on Sunday against the Cubs, who rank 27th in runs scored and are hitting .223/.291/.318 as a team against southpaws.  He's a strong matchup play who is a fine wait-and-see bench option given his previous success, electric stuff, and his recent play.     

       
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Belichick declines to address Revis' reported tardiness

Texas mayor delays Halloween for Friday night football game

C-USA hired PR firm to help Marshall’s playoff chances

Wilson denies rumored Harvin rift, blames media for scrutiny

Report: Cowboys could limit DeMarco Murray's touches

Lakers announce Steve Nash to miss season with back issues

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Is Mack Brown the best option for SMU?

Jeremy Kerley on new contract: 'Bentleys for everybody'

Buss: Any FA who won’t play with Kobe ‘probably a loser’

NFL to start airing its own anti-domestic violence PSAs

Ex-Bronco John Boyett punched cabbie, told cops to call Elway

Former NFL QB still feels effects of concussions every day

RNS looking to add agents with existing client rosters

Would World Series win make the Giants a dynasty?

NFL teams facing potential must-win scenarios in Week 8

WATCH: Jeremy Lin poses as Adidas employee for prank

WATCH: Peyton screams at fans to 'shut the f- up!'

Father auctioning off infant son's soccer club allegiance

Love thanks T'Wolves fans in essay for not burning his jersey

WATCH: Browns WR 'kicks out' son over favorite player snub

Memorabilia dealer wants Todd Gurley reinstated immediately

Aaron Rodgers gave girlfriend Olivia Munn a 'special ring'?

The 10 college football programs with most to gain in Week 9

Most disappointing potential dynasties of divisional era

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!

World Series win = Giants dynasty?

NFL teams facing must-win scenarios in Week 8

Programs with a lot on the line this week

Wilson denies rumored Harvin rift

Lakers: Steve Nash out for season

Is Mack Brown SMU's best option?

Are sports leagues finally getting serious about domestic violence?

Brian Urlacher rips Jay Cutler

On Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and embracing newfound roles

Top NFL storylines: Week 8

Kiffin's mom worried for son's safety

Report: Goodell will have to testify

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.