Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Francisco Liriano 2010

The good news for Francisco Liriano is that he's still only 26 years old. For some perspective, that's younger than J.A. Happ. He is also was nowhere near as bad as his 5.80 ERA last year indicated, as he struck out 8.03 batters per nine innings and walked 4.28. He's better than J.A. Happ too. The bad news is that, so far, he's just a shell of what he used to be. While his strikeout rate and walk rate have gotten worse, the greatest concern to me is that his groundball rate has gone from a fantastic 55.3% in 2006 to a very mediocre 40.2% last year. He simply isn't the same kind of pitcher he used to be, and it's likely that the changes in his pitches go well beyond a reduced velocity. All of that said, I think there's still a good chance that he slips far enough in drafts to make him a sleeper. If he pitches as well as last year, his ERA should be in the 4s with any kind of luck at all. And given his age, and the additional time since his surgery, there's certainly the possibility that he continues to improve. Just don't pick him too soon, particularly since there's a great deal of injury risk that comes with Liriano, as he was shut down with elbow problems towards the end of last year.

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