Hidden Vigorish

Detailed Analysis of The Pittsburgh Pirates

Even the Bad Liriano Can Be Good

Francisco Liriano has had a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type of career. There have been seasons like last year in which Liriano simply dominated on the mound. But Liriano has put up some awfully bad seasons in his career too. In 2009, 2011, and 2012 he posted ERAs above 5.00. The alternating trend of good and bad seasons with Liriano is something the Pirates had hoped to avoid. The Pirates were set to go into the 2014 season minus one front of the rotation veteran starting pitcher after losing A.J. Burnett in free agency. If Francisco Liriano were to revert back to the inconsistent and unreliable starting pitcher he was during his bad seasons with the Twins it would likely derail the Pirates’ season. So far that has been the case. Thru 11 starts Liriano is winless with a 5.06 ERA. The Pirates are a team that is floundering five games under .500 with two months of the season already in the books. But there is a bright spot. Even when Liriano is bad he can be good, and we are entering the part of the season when Frankie historically dominates.
Liriano has a track record of being a very strong pitcher in June and July. Even during his poor seasons he has put up some dominate numbers in those months. His career ERA for June is 3.01 and for July is 3.30. In particular June has been a month where Liriano has been very good even in the midst of a bad season. Check out his ERAs for June compared to his season ERA over the last five seasons:

Year June ERA Season ERA
2009 3.77 5.80
2010 3.82 3.62
2011 3.42 5.09
2012 2.87 5.34
2013 2.15 3.02


Of course the Pirates are going to need more than just one good month from Liriano if they stand any chance of being in the NL Central race this summer. But there is even some precedence for him sustaining excellence for a long stretch despite having an overall poor season. In 2011 over the course of 12 starts from May 3rd thru July 19th Liriano posted a 3.08 ERA and 8 quality starts. So there is still a chance that the “Bad Liriano” can turn good long enough to still be a factor this season.

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