There Was No Doubt About It

A Pittsburgh Pirates Blog

Below the Waterline: Cubs 6, Pirates 0

06.18.16 Posted by

I’ve said this a few times, but basically no pitcher is good enough to put up the kinds of results Jake Arietta’s been putting up, with the possible exception of Clayton Kershaw. You get to these results by being both good and lucky. And yesterday’s game was a perfect example of that.

Was Arietta good? Yes. He struck out 11 in six innings and gave up no runs. Was he lucky? Absolutely. He allowed multiple base runners twice, including loading the bases with one out, and got out of it both times. His strand rate last year was 80%, and this year it’s even higher, and the splits don’t seem to indicate that he gets appreciably better at striking people out with runners on, either. Maybe Arietta has discovered some new way to pitch from the stretch that renders him immune to typical strand rate regression, but that seems unlikely. And it sounds goofy to say any of this, because it sounds like I’m saying he’s good because he’s lucky, when I’m really saying he’s both.

On the other side, Liriano gave up two runs on two pitches (which is, in case you were wondering, the maximum number of runs you can allow on that many pitches)…and then settled down for several innings. He left with some runners on in the 6th, so his line ended up looking pretty bad, but considering the opponent and the first two pitches he threw, it had the makings of something a lot worse. At this point I’m convinced Liriano is unlikely to round into shape enough to get his overall numbers roughly in line with the last few years, but I’m also unconvinced he can’t be a productive starter in the second half. Others have made a convincing case that what looks like several different problems may actually be one with multiple ripple effects, and I just can’t believe (not yet, at least) that he’s suddenly twice as susceptible to the long ball.

The Bucs managed just three hits yesterday. Since his three double game against Colorado, Gregory Polanco has just one extra base hit (a double) in eight games.

The Pirates are below .500 for just the second time this season, and the first time in two months. They’ve lost eight of nine and they haven’t beaten the Cubs in any game where Gerrit Cole wasn’t wearing a cape.

Filed under: Francisco Liriano, game recaps, Gregory Polanco