Francisco Liriano Continues to Look Good in Latest Rehab Start

Francisco Liriano has a 17:0 K/BB ratio and two earned runs in 11 innings while rehabbing in Indianapolis.
Francisco Liriano has a 17:0 K/BB ratio and two earned runs in 11 innings while rehabbing in Indianapolis.

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.

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The Pirates are trying to bring Liriano around on a schedule that is very similar to the work he would have gotten in Spring Training. It is a long season and trying to rush that schedule with a pitcher who is rehabbing is counter productive. If right, Liriano could be the missing link for our Rotation for 2013 and there is no reason to rush and much of this is psychological in that the AAA games are like exhibitions, whereas the games at the MLB Level are for real – patience.

joe g.

That’s fine. [but] Liriano is a veteran. It’s not like this is his first rodeo.

joe g.

Question: why not start Liriano over Gomez? Gomez stated that he was good for about 75 pitches. Why not use Liriano and keep Gomez in his current role? What’s the big difference here between Indy and the PBC?

Stephen Brooks

That’s actually a good point – if all you’re getting out of either guy is about 75 pitches, then what makes Gomez’s 75 preferable to Liriano’s 75 at this point? You could use Gomez as Liriano’s caddy for the middle innings.

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