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Saturday, June 18, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL CRISIS POINT: FRANCISCO LIRIANO SP PITTSBURGH PIRATES

 Few starting pitchers in all of fantasy baseball elicit more of an eyeroll then Pittsburgh Pirates veteran SP Francisco Liriano.  At one time or another, we all have horror stories to share about owning Liriano through his days with the Minnesota Twins (some very good and some very bad), to go with the utter disaster that was his stay with the Chicago White Sox.  Blessed with a fastball that approached triple-digits and with knee-buckling offspeed stuff, Liriano was considered a guy who could toss a no-hitter any time he took the mound.  At the same time, Liriano also had a very dark side in terms of having some of the absolute worst control of any pitcher in baseball and that began soon after coming back from Tommy John elbow surgery after an initial electric debut with the Twins in 2006.  From that point onward with the Twins and then then White Sox, Liriano teased up with some utterly dominate outings with a boatload of K's but more often then not struggled terribly with awful control and soaring ERA's and WHIP's.  Eventually though Liriano made his way to Pittsburgh where in this space we have considered the locale to be a "Lourdes" for struggling veteran pitchers to find their way.  Liriano did just that, almost transforming into a top SP 2 from the get-go there in registering ERA's of 3.02 in 2013, 3.38 in 2014, and 3.38 in 2015.  So after three straight very good seasons, Liriano seemed safe to trust again as a high-K, solid mid-3.00 ERA guy.

Fast forward to present day and Liriano's comes off another brutal outing Friday night where he walked 5 batters and saw his ERA spike to 5.03 with a disgusting WHIP of 1.62.  There is no way to slice it other then to say Liriano has arguabnly been one of the WORST pitchers in 2016 fantasy baseball as his control has completely abandoned him like never before.  Overall now Liriano has walked an insane 46 batters in 73.1 innings and his hit rate is up sharply as well with 73 hits given up.  Liriano is usually a guy who has some of the best hit rates in the game and that was even when he was walking the ballpark.  Now with a hit rate going up and his control worse then ever, Liriano is as bad a pitcher as you can get right now.  In fact things are so bad that Liriano shouldn't even be on a fantasy baseball roster right now. 

Taking things even further, it is not just walks that are ruining Liriano's 2016 season.  His HR/9 rate is soaring as he sits at a ridiculous 1.72.  Consider that Liriano was at 0.72 each of the last two years and one can see how many more runs he is giving up with the long ball alone.  Some of that can be blamed on a decrease in velocity we are seeing from Liriano and this is not a shock considering how many innings he has thrown the last few seasons.  Remember Liriano has a very rough delivery that led to the TJ surgery back in the day and often this leads to early loss of velocity in a pitcher's career despite the fact he is still young at 32.  So Liriano is becoming as hittable as ever in addition to his pathetic 5.65 BB/9 number. 

When you put it all together, Francisco Liriano is back to driving us all crazy and no longer should be used in any fantasy baseball league.  Guys who have BOTH ugly control and a high HR rate are death in fantasy baseball and Liriano is that kind of pitcher based on what he has done this season.  Avoid him altogether and cut him loose if you still are holding out hope for a turnaround. 


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