Rob Neyer, famous AL Central hater, has an interestingly optimistic take on Liriano’s struggles:
Francisco Liriano’s ERA this season (5.91) is exactly two runs higher than it was last season. He’s been instructed to junk one of his two sliders. But fundamentally the only difference between this season and last season is a few more home runs. He’s still got a fine strikeout rate and he’s still walking more batters than he’d like. If he gives up seven homers — as he did last season — rather than 12, his ERA would look quite a bit better. So, this is no time to panic.Frankly, I’m a little surprised that Neyer’s not saying Liriano’s career is over.* But part of it might just be that he’s looking at this in a surprisingly simplistic way. (Just looking at the number of home runs, really?)
* My guess is that it’s because the Red Sox have a lot of pitching depth at the moment. If they needed a pitcher, he’d be calling for the Twins to release Liriano. You know, like he did about Jason Kubel right before the season started and Kubel started raking.
I guess Neyer hasn’t seen Liriano’s numbers with men on base:
2008 Nobody on base: .250/.318/.406 Men on base: .260/.338/.374That’s pretty bad.
2009 Nobody on base: .243/.314/.399 Men on base: .325/.413/.595
I guess he also hasn’t taken a look at Liriano’s struggles the second time through the order, which I’ve talked about in the past:
The first time through the lineup, opponents hit just .163/.253/.263 against him, with a 26/8 K/BB ratio and just 5 runs in 91 batters. The second time: .325/.400/.575 with a 12/9 K/BB and 13 runs in 90 batters. The third time? .396/.460/.717 with a 9/8 K/BB and 21 R in 64 batters.I guess he also hasn’t looked at thrylos98’s analysis of Liriano’s release point:
As you can see, not only the successful Liriano release points are tighter, they are closer to his body. When he throws further away from his body, bad things happen.These are a bunch of bad things. Liriano and Anderson have both claimed that they’ve found the problem, and it’s the crappier slider Liriano’s been throwing. If that pitch is the reason his delivery is out of whack, and is the reason he’s throwing fewer changeups, then yeah, maybe that’s the problem. And given that his sharp, biting slider is obviously a better pitch, he should probably just focus on that one.
Still, his mechanics are a major issue, and one that I haven’t seen any indication that he’s resolved. Also, perhaps a bigger issue is his inability to adjust to what hitters are doing to him — this (along with arm fatigue, from conditioning and/or mechanics) is probably the reason he gets lit up the third time through the order.
Obviously, I don’t share Neyer’s optimism. I wish I did. We’ll see how he throws tonight.No comments