Was Liriano’s Last Start A Mirage?


Last night Francisco Liriano threw 7 innings of 1 run ball. He gave up just 3 hits, walked 1 and struck out 8. It was a great outing and he looked great.

But was he really? For starters, the lineup he was facing was, let’s say uninspiring. Here is who the Royals trotted out with their wOBA’s in parentheses.

David DeJesus (.323)

Willie Bloomquist (.297)

Billy Butler (.362)

Miguel Olivo (.327)

Alberto Callaspo (.350)

Mark Teahen (.337)

Mitch Maier (.301)

Yuni Betancourt (.246)

Josh Anderson (.168)

Suffice it to say the lineup he faced his last time out (against the Indians) was better, although not by a ton. Next let’s look at some pitch f/x. Liriano threw every single one of his pitches slower last night than he did against the Indians. But pure speed isn’t the be all end all. Liriano’s separation between his FB and his CH last night was 7.14 MPH, and against the Indians it was 6.73 MPH. Did that half mile an hour matter? Probably not. Liriano threw a ton more strikes last night, and was helped by a 6 pitch 5th inning, so throwing a lot less pitches would help. Liriano’s release point was a bit higher and to the left more than it was in his start against the Indians, which could have given him more movement on his pitches. Let’s see if we’re right. Here’s the Indians game:

And here is from last night:

As you can see, Liriano had much more break on his pitches last night. So was Liriano just less afraid to attack hitters because he knew he was facing a terrible lineup, or is his stuff starting to come back to where it was? Only time will tell, but I will say I am cautiously optimistic.