There Was No Doubt About It

A Pittsburgh Pirates Blog

Pirates at Cardinals: Somehow Not Huge

05.06.16 Posted by

Liriano vs. Martinez, 8:15 PM

It’s weird looking at a Pirates-Cardinals series and having it feel anti-climactic, but we’ve pretty seamlessly moved from one rival to the next in the Central. These games still matter, though, and after losing four in a row, they matter even more. The Cards may not be the threat they once were, and they may not be the biggest thing standing between us and a division title. But they’re still a decent-to-good team, at least for now, that we have to play a whole lot each year

It would’ve been awfully nice to be able to trot Liriano out against the Cubs along with Cole, but he draws a pretty big matchup here instead, against Carlos Martinez. Martinez was very good last year but had workload concerns last year. It’s not clear if they’ll be an issue this year, but they’re certainly not in May. And he’s off to a good start, albeit one not supported by his peripherals. K rate’s down, but so are the walks, and his BABIP against is way too low. The Bucs hit him pretty well last year in two of four starts, and they’re better this year.

Liriano’s unrealistically high HR/FB rate is always down 10% from his last start and should keep dropping. That ugly 5.5 BB/9 rate probably will, too, but is more of a cause for concern. I think Liriano is, at worst, still 90% of what he’s been the last few years, and a good start tonight would go a long way towards reassuring me that this rotation is merely a work in progress, rather than actively on fire.

This year, I’ll resign myself to playing for a Wild Card slot a lot earlier than last year. But not quite yet.

First pitch is at 8:15 PM.

Filed under: Francisco Liriano, game preview