Francisco Liriano had another strong rehab start today, giving up one run on four hits in six innings with Indianapolis, along with no walks and nine strikeouts. In his two starts with Indianapolis he has combined for two earned runs in 11 innings, with a 17:0 K/BB ratio and eight hits allowed.
With the struggles of Jonathan Sanchez, and Jeanmar Gomez currently occupying a spot in the major league rotation, there will be a lot of calls for Liriano to be called up to the majors. It’s important to note two things about today’s outing:
1. This was the first time he went beyond five innings.
2. Liriano was supposed to throw 90 pitches today for the first time. He only threw 82 in the game, and most likely threw the final pitches in the bullpen, which is the norm for rehabbing starters.
The rehab process is more of less Spring Training for Liriano. He’s had more good outings than bad outings. He looked dominant when I saw him in Bradenton for his first start. The second start in Altoona didn’t go so well, as he was removed after 2.2 innings with four runs allowed on three walks and four strikeouts. His two starts in Indianapolis have been dominant. These starts all fall under the Spring Training thinking that it’s more about what the player is working on and how his pitches work, and less about the results.
You obviously want to see good results, and it’s hard to not get excited at Liriano’s line with a glaring hole in the major league rotation. Liriano does have time for one more rehab start, which was originally in the plans. Looking at the probable pitching chart, Jeanmar Gomez is scheduled to throw on May 8th. The Pirates could shift A.J. Burnett up to throw that day, pitching him on five days rest. They could do the same with Jeff Locke on the 9th and Wandy Rodriguez on the 10th, all due to the off day on May 6th. That would set Liriano up for a May 11th return, without giving Gomez more than one start in the rotation. Considering that the Pirates can go with a four man rotation after Gomez’s start on Wednesday, I wouldn’t expect them to rush Liriano back until he’s needed, which is on the 11th.