The Pirates need the 2013 version of Francisco Liriano in the second half. Last time out he struggled in the first, but recovered and threw five innings with no earned runs, striking out eight in the process. Tonight against the Dodgers the results were much like the 2013 Liriano, with one run on four hits and two walks in seven innings, along with four strikeouts.
Liriano got off to a horrible start this year, and missed about a month with an injury. He has quietly been pitching better over his last six starts. In his last five outings prior to tonight, he had a 2.78 ERA. His 3.80 xFIP suggests he won’t continue with those numbers if he keeps up what he was doing, and that was issuing a lot of walks, but limiting the hits and striking out a lot of guys. The version we’ve seen the last two starts can not only put up strong numbers, but would also have the advanced metrics to back up those numbers.
We’re a week away from the trade deadline, and the Pirates will be looking at starting pitching. A big reason for this is because Liriano hasn’t lived up to his role this year. If Liriano can continue pitching like he has since returning from the disabled list, then that would be one of the biggest boosts the Pirates pitching staff could receive in the final two months.
MLB held their Competitive Balance Lottery today, and there was nothing about it that said “Competitive Balance”. The Pirates, Rays, and Royals were all shut out from draft picks, while the Cardinals and Mariners both received picks. The draft lottery has been flawed since day one. Any system that recognizes the need for competitive balance, but doesn’t offer draft picks for all of the teams that need such balance, is pointless.
I offered up a suggestion after the first draft, and the suggestion would still work today. For some background, the teams that make up the lottery are the ten teams with the lowest revenue, and the ten teams in the smallest markets. Any team who received revenue sharing, but doesn’t qualify for those lists, is entered in the lottery for a Comp Round B pick. This year there were 13 teams for the first round, and two more added for the second round. Here is how the system could be fixed.
1. Take whatever teams that fall in to both low revenue and small market categories, and have them compete for a first round compensation pick. Make as many picks as there are teams. We know that there would have been seven of those teams this year, which means there would be one extra pick in Round A.
2. Take all of the teams who only fell in to one category and give them compensation picks in section B after the second round. After those six picks, give picks to any teams who received revenue sharing, but don’t qualify as small market or low revenue (in this case, the Mariners and Twins).
Under this simple system, the teams that need help the most (small market AND small revenue) are not only guaranteed picks, but get the best picks. Teams that only fall into one of those categories would get a pick, but a lower valued pick. And a team that receives revenue sharing, but isn’t a small market or low revenue team would get the least valuable picks.
This would add three picks to the draft — one after the first round, and two after the second round. It wouldn’t blow up the draft, and it would achieve the goal of working toward Competitive Balance, even if these draft picks are just a very, very small piece of assistance towards that balance.
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