Pittsburgh Pirates starter Francisco Liriano has been a great pickup for the team despite an off season injury that sidelined him until mid-May. He has been the stopper, but can he realistically win the Cy Young?
Since the 2011 season, Liriano has been less than sub-par with a 5.09 ERA in 2011, his 2012 ERA with Minnesota was 5.31 and a 5.40 ERA with the Chicago White Sox. Minnesota fans were not upset when the Twins cut ties with the lefty, but things changed when Pittsburgh signed him over the winter.
It was an odd off-season for Liriano, signing a two-year, $12.75 million contract that Pittsburgh reworked after he broke his right (non-throwing arm) over the winter trying to scare his children. His current contract had only $1 million in guaranteed salary, a sign of his new team’s skepticism, and a chance to make the rest through incentives.
Liriano has done nothing but deal since coming off the DL from an injury to his non-throwing arm. He comes out game after game with his best stuff and has stopped losing streaks on more than one occasion.
Liriano is 14-5 on the season with a 2.53 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. He has fanned 126 batters. His ERA has been progressively better from month to month, his May ERA was 2.35, his June ERA was 2.15, and his July ERA was a beautiful 2.06.
With all this being said, Liriano is one of the best pitchers in baseball, and he deserves serious consideration for the Cy Young. Realistically, Liriano has a lot of tough competition right now Adam Wainwright, Matt Harvey and Clayton Kershaw. All four pitchers have had great seasons and should be strong considerations for the award.
“For all the complaining people do about player contracts and players getting hammered for bad one-year deals or bad 10-year deals or whatever, there isn’t enough being written about Francisco Liriano,” said Reds star Joey Votto. “That guy is so valuable to them.”
While Liriano is certainly the comeback player of the year in baseball, he will likely not win the Cy Young. Pirates fans should not be disappointed with the likely outcome because he has done so much for the team during their magical season. He has played a huge role in the Pirates success, but Kershaw is blowing his competition out of the water with the season he is having.
Kershaw is 13-7 this season with an amazing ERA of 1.72. He is also the league leader in strike outs with 188, innings (198 1/3) innings and hit rate (5.8 per nine). These stats make Kershaw a contender to win the pitching Triple Crown.
That is hard to argue someone not being an automatic Cy Young winner baring any injuries. Kershaw has been lights out all season for the Dodgers.
Pittsburgh fans have to look at the bigger picture, a different year or league, Liriano could likely win the honor, but it is hard to argue that Kershaw is unworthy. They just need to embrace what the left-hander has meant to the team, an organization and a city who is about to see their first winning season in over 20 years.