Francisco Liriano is such a wild card for the Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s hard to imagine a bigger start for any Pirates pitcher against the Milwaukee Brewers in the past three years. With the 3-1 win last night, the Bucs have won back-to-back games against the Brew Crew for the first time since 2010.
Is there a better time for a left-handed pitcher to walk to the mound at PNC Park and face the Milwaukee Brewers? We can’t think of one. The Pirates haven’t won three in a row against the Brewers in a long time. We’ve always thought that until the Pirates are able to get around the curse of the Brew Crew, burying the ghosts of the past are going to be especially difficult.
Liriano seems a perfect fit to do the job and such a nice fit for PNC Park. In his National League debut at Citi Field against the New York Mets, the 6’3″ southpaw from San Cristobal gave Pirates fans everything they were thinking he would deliver, and more.
The Mets were able to score just one run on six hits while they were being punched out nine times by Liriano. The strikeouts were the eye-opener, and what everyone was hoping Liriano would be able to bring to his NL game. It’s a quality that Liriano has always possessed, and now in his last 286.1 innings he has struck out 289 bad guys.
What didn’t come along with his first start were the walks. They’ve been the thorn in the side of the Dominican lefty.
The average heater against the Mets was clocked at 93 miles per hour, and time after time the new release point kept the Metropolitans off-balance as his off speed pitches piled up swing and miss. The slider and changeup were above average, mostly around 85 miles per hour and #FrankTheTank posted over 25 percent swing and miss on the slider and nearly 40 percent on the change [FanGraphs].
The Brewers have hit well against lefties; though not so much last night against Wandy Rodriguez, who utilized his changeup to control the firepower of the Brew Crew.
Kudos to the Bucs for making sure not to rush the southpaw through his minor league work. His batting skills needed the work.. ahem. [You might need to click the GIF]
To say it would be enjoyable to watch Liriano dominate against the Brewers would be an understatement.