These Pittsburgh Pirates hurlers must start 30 games or more

5 of 5

Sep 27, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher

Francisco Liriano

(47) pitches during the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off of the richest free-agent contract in team history, it was tough to leave Francisco Liriano off of this informal list.  For me, the number that stood out the most was 5.6.  That is the average number of innings per start for Liriano in 2014, and that number is 5.8 for his Pirate tenure.  While I’m not putting all of my stock in that proverbial basket, the fact that he was the only starter below six speaks volumes.  Additionally, his SO/W ratio was “only” 2.16, despite having 175 strikeouts on the year, mostly due to 18 more walks in 2014 from 2013.  This despite only three more starts year-to-year.

For the record, I am very pro-Liriano and very happy the Pirates brought him back, even at that money.  I can’t help but have this very un-scientific feeling that if he doesn’t start as many games as he should, that would be ok.  As evidenced by the past two seasons, a more effective Liriano in the stretch run can be just as important as a full workload during the year.

However, if the pitchers I’ve previously highlighted in this piece did not make 30 or more starts, it would mean a lot of different problems for our rotation.  Gone would be our proven workhorse, our best young pitcher, and our best back-end option.  Any of those hurlers missing significant time would lead to the rotation being shuffled more than anyone would like, and put added pressure on equally fragile pieces like Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke (that’s mental fragility).  The biggest problem it would cause could be an overworked bullpen, which is never desirable.

And there you have it.  Going into writing this piece I was pretty sure Liriano would be here but as the numbers point out, other pitchers may just end up being as important than Frankie, if not more.

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