Francisco Liriano
Francisco Liriano
35-Year-Old PitcherRP
Pittsburgh Pirates
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Coming off a brutal 2017 season (5.66 ERA and 1.67 WHIP across 97 innings) that ended with him in the bullpen, Liriano inked a one-year deal with the Tigers in February of 2018 and won a spot in Detroit's Opening Day rotation thanks to a strong spring training. The veteran left-hander failed to impress across 27 appearances (26 starts), posting a 4.58 ERA and 1.51 WHIP across 133.2 innings. He saw his strikeout rate fall to a career-worst 7.4 K/9, while his walk rate sat at 4.9 BB/9 for the second straight season. Liriano also struggled with the long ball yet again (1.3 HR/9). He showed heavy platoon splits -- righties hit .270/.369/.455 against him while lefties slashed just .170/.255/.261 -- suggesting a move to the bullpen is probably best for the 35-year-old. His days as a viable fantasy option are likely over. Read Past Outlooks
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$Signed a one-year, $1.8 million contract with the Pirates in February of 2019.
Throwing up zeros
PPittsburgh Pirates
April 30, 2019
Pitching exclusively out of the bullpen, Liriano has yet to allow an earned run in 10.1 innings through his first 11 appearances of 2019.
After issuing a pair of walks and a wild pitch to three of the first four batters he faced, Liriano has crafted a 14:4 K:BB. The 34-year-old has thrown in three of the last four games, becoming one of the team's few reliable bullpen options in April. His walk rate (8.9 percent) is the lowest it's been since 2010. While he's not pitching enough to help many fantasy owners, there remains a chance he could spot-start if and when injuries strike Pittsburgh's rotation.
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2017
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2017vs Left .204 221 56 18 41 8 1 3
Since 2017vs Right .269 898 169 118 205 40 7 28
2019vs Left .150 23 12 3 3 1 0 0
2019vs Right .175 71 18 7 11 2 0 1
2018vs Left .170 98 22 10 15 2 0 2
2018vs Right .270 488 88 63 112 16 5 17
2017vs Left .247 100 22 5 23 5 1 1
2017vs Right .289 339 63 48 82 22 2 10
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2017
ERA at Home
ERA on Road
ERA at Home
ERA at Home
Since 2017Home 4.05 1.40 126.2 8 9 0 8.8 4.2 0.9
Since 2017Away 5.23 1.61 127.1 4 10 0 7.1 5.4 1.3
2019Home 1.32 1.10 13.2 1 0 0 11.9 3.3 0.7
2019Away 0.00 0.93 9.2 0 0 0 11.2 4.7 0.0
2018Home 4.26 1.52 50.2 2 5 0 8.0 5.0 1.6
2018Away 4.77 1.48 83.0 3 7 0 7.0 4.9 1.1
2017Home 4.48 1.36 62.1 5 4 0 8.8 3.8 0.4
2017Away 7.79 2.11 34.2 1 3 0 6.2 7.0 2.1
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Stat Review
How does Francisco Liriano compare to other relievers?
This section compares his stats with all relief pitcher seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 30 innings)*. The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.

* Exit Velocity, Barrels/BBE %, Balls Hit 95+ MPH %, and Spin Rate are benchmarked against this season's data (min 20 IP). See here for more exit velocity/barrels stats plus an explanation of current limitations with that data set.
  • K/BB
    Strikeout to walk ratio.
  • K/9
    Average strikeouts per nine innings.
  • BB/9
    Average walks per nine innings.
  • HR/9
    Average home runs allowed per nine innings.
  • Fastball
    Average fastball velocity.
  • ERA
    Earned run average. The average earned runs allowed per nine innings.
  • WHIP
    Walks plus hits per inning pitched.
    Batting average on balls in play. Measures how many balls in play against a pitcher go for hits.
  • GB/FB
    Groundball to flyball ratio. The higher the number, the more likely a pitcher is to induce groundballs.
  • Left On Base
    The percentage of base runners that a pitcher strands on base over the course of a season.
  • Exit Velocity
    The speed of the baseball as it comes off the bat, immediately after a batter makes contact.
  • Barrels/BBE
    The percentage of batted ball events resulting in a Barrel. A Barrel is a batted ball with similar exit velocity and launch angle to past ones that led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage.
  • Spin Rate
    Spin Rate is the rate of spin on a baseball after it is released. It is measured in revolutions per minute (rpm).
  • Balls Hit 95+ MPH
    The percentage of batted balls hit that met or exceeded the 95 MPH threshold.
  • Swinging Strike
    The percentage of pitches that result in a swing and a miss.
92.5 mph
Left On Base
Exit Velocity
84.4 mph
Spin Rate
1978 rpm
Balls Hit 95+ MPH
Swinging Strike
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Defensive Stats
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
The 34-year-old Liriano has fallen far since he posted three straight seasons with an ERA of 3.38 or lower for the Pirates from 2013-15. Liriano's 5.66 ERA last season was well-deserved, as his strikeout rate (19.4 percent) fell to below league average while his walk rate (12.1 percent) was well above. His ERA improved to a more respectable 4.40 in 20 appearances in relief following a trade to the Astros, but that improvement appears to be a mirage, as both his strikeout and walk rates were even worse during that period. Some team will probably give the veteran lefty the chance to win a bullpen job, but expectations should be low.
Liriano was a surprise addition (acquired via trade with Pittsburgh) to the Jays' roster late in the season. With the Pirates, Liriano posted a disgusting 5.46 ERA and 1.62 WHIP over 113.2 innings and 21 starts. Once reunited with his former catcher Russell Martin in Toronto, the veteran managed a sweet-looking 2.92 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over 49.1 innings and 10 appearances (eight starts). Liriano proved there is plenty left in the tank by rounding out 2016 with a 1.46 ERA in his last four starts, including a 10-strikeout performance in his season finale. Mainly due to his time in the NL, the southpaw's overall numbers from last season are less than impressive. The 33-year-old's 9.28 K/9 was great but completely negated by a terrible 4.69 BB/9. Liriano's 1.44 HR/9 and 4.89 FIP both ranked among the 10 worst marks in MLB. He should be a mainstay in Toronto's rotation in 2017, but despite his high marks with Martin and Toronto, he's best handled cautiously for use in fantasy leagues.
Liriano has proven to be the Bucs’ most reliable pitcher over the last three years, averaging 29 starts. In 2015, the left-hander registered a 3.38 ERA for the second straight season while tossing 24.1 more innings. He also set career-bests in strikeouts (205) and WHIP (1.21). Armed with a 92.5 mph average fastball, wipeout slider and an elite changeup, Liriano continues to give hitters fits and put smiles on fantasy owners faces. The 32-year-old southpaw will anchor the team’s staff along with Gerrit Cole as he begins the second season of a three-year pact that he signed with Pittsburgh in December of 2014.
It looked like Liriano would once again fail to put up strong back-to-back seasons when he struggled early on, but a late, seven-start run of 1.23 ERA in 44 innings lowered his season's earned run average from 4.18 to 3.38. A groin injury, sustained late in spring training, hampered Liriano, who is typically a slow starter, regardless. He also went on the DL due to an oblique strain. In the end, the southpaw's final numbers -- 3.38 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 175 strikeouts in 162.1 innings -- show he's more than capable of helping fantasy teams. Owners might want to keep him chained to the bench in April (Liriano has compiled a 5.77 ERA and 1.56 WHIP in 156 career innings) before unleashing the lefty with a wicked changeup.
Liriano gave Pittsburgh its biggest free-agent Christmas gift ever when he broke his non-pitching arm playing with his children Christmas Day of 2012. After his injury, the team reworked a $13 million guaranteed two-year deal into a $1 million-plus incentive-based contract which paved the way for the Pirates' first playoff season since 1992. Named the 2013 National League Comeback Player of the Year, Liriano made his season debut in May and never looked back. He finished 16-8, with a 3.02 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 161 innings. He compiled a 163:63 K:BB ratio, working with four pitches, including a devastating slider and changeup. Liriano won eight of nine home decisions and posted a 1.47 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 72.2 frames. The lefty did throw up warning flags, compiling a 5.14 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in September. Liriano has never put together strong back-to-back campaigns, but it looks like he's on track to do so in 2014.
Liriano had a terrible beginning to last season (9.45 ERA) that had him demoted to the bullpen after six starts. He returned to the rotation in late May and had a 3.68 ERA and 79:29 K:BB ratio in 66 innings. It looked like Liriano had finally captured his pre-2010 form, but he then struggled with a 5.40 ERA and 32 walks in 56.2 innings after he was traded to the White Sox at the end of July - even losing his rotation spot with the White Sox. The brief flashes of excellence and a 9.6 K/9 made that series of events all the more frustrating. He walked at least 5.0 BB/9 for the second straight season, which may shed some doubt on Liriano's future as a starter. He agreed to a two-year, $14 million deal with the Pirates but his contract was in doubt over a physical before spring training after he suffered a non-throwing arm injury in December. If healthy, he'll begin the season as the No. 4 starter where Pittsburgh hopes the change of scenery and move to the NL can coax him to pitch consistently like he did in the middle of last season.
Liriano emerged as Minnesota's ace in 2010 as he seemed finally back to top form after Tommy John surgery. However, he took a major step backward last year and is an enigma for 2012. Liriano came down with a sore shoulder in spring training and never seemed right even though he threw a no-hitter in May (although it included six walks). He landed on the DL twice with a sore shoulder and made just nine starts after the All-Star break. His average fastball velocity slipped by two mph, his strikeout rate declined to 7.50 K/9IP (from 9.44) and his walk rate nearly doubled (to a staggering 5.02 BB/9IP). If there's some hope for a turnaround, Liriano seemed to struggle mentally with Minnesota's poor defense as he fell apart when runners reached base (.822 OPS with runners on) - and it's hard to see Minnesota's defense being worse. His shoulder problems also didn't appear to have any structural cause. When healthy, Liriano's slider is one of the toughest pitches in the game. He's just a year removed from a season with an excellent strikeout rate, good control and an ability to keep the ball on the ground. He's a bounce back candidate as a result.
Last season, Liriano was finally back to the dominant form he had before his 2006 Tommy John surgery and he enters 2011 as the ace of the Minnesota staff. Liriano was an enigma in 2009 as he was in his second season back from surgery but struggled with a 5.80 ERA and mediocre control. He pitched in winter ball and finally said his arm felt strong and the change was marked once the regular season began. Liriano saw a strong bounceback in his velocity to an average of a 93.7 mph from 91.7 in 2009 - which almost approached his pre-surgery form (94.7 mph in 2006). His fastball went from one of the most hittable in the league in 2009 to league average in 2010. That allowed his slider to become a devastating pitch again, as it was among the top off-speed pitches in fewest average runs allowed. He also saw a dramatic increase in his groundball rate to 53.6 percent from 40.2 percent in 2009 along with fewer walks and home runs. One of the few concerns was that he only allowed 6.5 percent of home runs on flyballs, which may be unsustainable. With an excellent strikeout rate (9.4 K/9IP), good control and an ability to keep the ball on the ground, Liriano looks like one of the best starters in the AL now that the physical and mental trials of Tommy John surgery are behind him.
Liriano may have been the biggest disappointment in fantasy baseball last season and his role with the Twins in 2010 is uncertain. It looked like Liriano was back to his pre-Tommy John surgery form entering 2009 as he went 6-1 with a 2.74 ERA and 60:19 K:BB ratio in 65.2 innings at the end of the 2008 season. However, he struggled to begin last season (6.60 ERA on June 1), went on the DL with a sore forearm in July and was demoted to the bullpen in the second half. He was an enigma since he was healthy and at times resembled his top 2008 form (with a strong 8.03 K/9IP strikeout rate), but he fell apart with runners on base (.945 OPS allowed). It was also thought that after Tommy John surgery, he wouldn't be able to use his slider as his out pitch as often. However, it was his fastball that was the problem (allowing the third most runs in baseball on heaters) while his slider remained an above average pitch. He may be a buy-low candidate, but we'll need to see improved control (122:65 K:BB ratio) before we get too excited. He may begin the season in middle relief as he tries to work his way back to the player they used to call “The Franchise.”
By the end of 2008, Liriano looked like the pitcher who had the baseball world abuzz before his 2006 rookie season was cut short due to Tommy John surgery. However, it was a roller coaster ride to get back to his prior form. After sitting out the 2007 season, Liriano got a few tune-up starts in the minors before being called up to the majors in April and struggled, giving up 13 walks and 13 runs in 10.1 innings. He continued to scuffle in the minors in May as his control was slow to come along after surgery. Once the weather heated up, Liriano turned things around and went 9-0 at Triple-A Rochester with a 2.51 ERA and 73:9 K:BB ratio in 64.2 innings after June 10. Called up to the Twins in August, Liriano looked like his old self by going 6-1 with a 2.74 ERA and 60:19 K:BB ratio in 65.2 innings. Liriano featured a high-90s fastball and devastating slider before his surgery that saw him amass high strikeout totals with good control. However, his velocity was down to the low 90s after surgery and he decreased the use of his slider, which was seen as the primary culprit of his elbow woes. That he still had strong strikeout rates and control numbers late in the season bode well that his new mix of pitches can have similar results to his pre-surgery form. And with pitchers often gaining velocity back in their second season after Tommy John surgery, Liriano could see an improvement in 2009. He'll be a hot commodity as a result at the top of Minnesota's rotation.
Liriano missed all of 2007 after Tommy John surgery, but threw full-speed bullpen sessions in November -- including sliders -- and is on track to return for the start of spring training. It's thought he'll be ready for the start of the regular season, but his health will be a big question mark this spring. When last healthy in 2006, Liriano may have been the best pitcher in baseball. With a high-90's fastball and devastating slider, he struck out 144 batters in 121 innings with just 32 walks. How quickly he'll be able to recapture that form is one of the bigger fantasy questions for 2008. It's possible he may start the season in the minors as he works his way back, and often pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery are better in their second season. Still, even if Liriano is a fraction of what he was in 2006, he could make a significant impact this year.
Liriano may have been the best pitcher in baseball last year but will miss the entire 2007 season after Tommy John surgery. After opening the season in the bullpen, he moved into the rotation in May and went 11-3 with a 1.92 ERA as a starter. With a fastball that can hit the high 90s on the radar gun and a devastating slider, Liriano struck out 144 batters in 121 innings with just 32 walks. He strained his ulnar collateral ligament in August, and after trying to rehab the injury, had a setback in his first start back in September. A few months later he went under the knife. While there's no guarantee Liriano will be the same pitcher when he returns in 2008, his upside is so high he's worth holding onto.
Liriano is one of the best pitching prospects in baseball after a season that saw him dominate hitters at three levels. He struck out over 11 batters per nine innings between two minor league levels with a 239/69 K/BB ratio. With a fastball that can hit the high 90s on the radar gun, Liriano will contend for a spot in the Minnesota rotation this spring. Even if he struggles initially in the majors (which he showed no signs of last year by posting a 33/7 K/BB ratio in six games with the Twins), he should post strong strikeout totals.
After coming back from 2003 shoulder problems, Liriano is a rising star in the Twins minor league system. Acquired in the A.J. Pierzynski trade, Liriano posted a strong K/BB ratio at High Single-A (125/43) before looking strong in seven starts for Double-A New Britain. He has a fastball that can hit the high 90s on the radar gun. If he can prove his durability, a good year at Double-A could have him in the mix for a major league job as early as 2006.
This lefty went 3-6, 3.49 in 16 starts in his pro debut at low Single-A in 2002. 85 K's in just 80 innings, with 31 walks and just six taters; turned 19 in October. Liriano will go to either high Single-A or Double-A in 2003. Won't see any time in the bigs, but an intriguing keeper league option.
More Fantasy News
Contract selected
PPittsburgh Pirates
March 28, 2019
Liriano's contract was purchased Thursday, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
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Will pitch in big leagues
PPittsburgh Pirates
March 23, 2019
Liriano will make the team's Opening Day roster, John Perrotto of DK Pittsburgh Sports reports.
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Day of reckoning coming
PPittsburgh Pirates
March 22, 2019
The Pirates are expected to inform Liriano whether he has made the Opening Day roster Saturday, DK Pittsburgh Sports reports.
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Unable to find strike zone
PPittsburgh Pirates
March 10, 2019
Liriano walked all four batters he faced against the Yankees on Sunday.
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Hurls clean inning Wednesday
PPittsburgh Pirates
February 27, 2019
Liriano pitched a scoreless fourth inning Wednesday against the Blue Jays.
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