Jays From the Couch brings you a look at what to expect from Toronto Blue Jays Starting Pitcher, Francisco Liriano in 2017
With Spring Training workouts under way, it is the time of year where we start to get excited about the upcoming season. Baseball is back! In looking ahead, there will be lots of chatter about what we can expect from certain players. To that end, we’ll be taking a look at the different projections for the Toronto Blue Jays to give you an idea of what you can look forward to.
Toronto’s newest member of the rotation, Francisco Liriano, is a bit of wildcard coming into 2017. What we do know is he was less than stellar in his first 21 starts with Pittsburgh. In fact, the lefty posted career his in WHIP at 1.619, as well as BB/9 of 5.5. Both of these contributed to his 6-11 record and his eventual falling out within the Pirates organization, the same group that helped resurrect his career.
After reuniting with his former catcher Russell Martin in Toronto, Liriano, righted the ship and helped deliver the Blue Jays to a Wild Card birth. Over his 10 appearances with Toronto he posted a 2.92 ERA, while dropping his WHIP to 1.176 in large part to his BB/9 dropping to a more manageable 2.9.
Is this the Liriano we will get to see at the Rogers Centre in 2017?
As you can see from the table above, most projections are not overly kind to the idea that Liriano can repeat his 2016 with Toronto in the upcoming season. With them appearing to lie somewhere in the middle of the seasons he put together for Pittsburgh from 2013-2015, and his 2016 season as a whole. They are, however, very reasonable for a back of the rotation starter. Which is exactly what Liriano is for the Blue Jays at this point.
Of course there is the possibility the reunification with Martin is something that is advantageous to Liriano. Should our expectations rely on this narrative? No, not overly. However, there could be enough there which will allow the lefty to be comfortable and get into a groove early in the season. As with any pitcher, the ability to go out and ‘just pitch’ without worrying about mechanics and/or pitch selection, can, and usually is, beneficial.
One major aspect to watch for with Liriano is his inability to get deep into games. Over the 2016 season the Dominican native only pitched 7 complete innings twice in 29 starts. Even while pitching much better with the Blue Jays his longest outing was 6 1/3 innings, which he reached on two occasions over eight starts. Over the length of a full season this will leave a fair amount of innings to be picked up by the bullpen. On the bright side he has averaged 29 starts over the last five seasons, so he does provide some reliability.
Should the veteran lefty be able to provide 165 innings with an ERA around 4.00, he will be a very valuable piece to the rotation. Considering his history this does not seem like it should be a concern for the organization.