Liriano could hold key for Pirates in wild-card game
Francisco Liriano had the best single season against left-handed hitters in major league history.
Yes, the best in baseball history.
Using the Baseball-Reference Play Index, Grantland.com found Liriano's .321 opponent on-base-plus-slugging-percentage mark against left-handed hitters was the best of all-time among left-handed pitchers who have faced a minimum of 100 left-handed batters in a season.
That dominance is good news for the Pirates in Tuesday's wild-card game against the Reds. The Reds' three best hitters — Shin-Soo Choo, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce — are left-handed. And it is Liriano, the Pirates' starter, versus those left-handed hitters that could determine which team advances to the National League Division Series.
Choo, Votto and Bruce are impact hitters. But each is significantly less effective against left-handed pitching.
Choo batted about 100 points worse against lefties (.215) than righties (.317). Votto has an .824 OPS vs. left-handers and a .977 mark against righties. Bruce is 0 for 11 against Liriano in his career.
Why has Liriano been so dominant against left-handed pitching?
“When he gets strike one against a lefty, he's got multiple different weapons to go to,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “Everything is coming out of the same arm slot: that dynamite slider, his parachute changeup and a good two-seam fastball.”
Liriano (16-8, 3.02 ERA) always has had a swing-and-miss slider and changeup, but he improved his fastball command in going to a two-seamer this season. It's a major reason he is having his best year since his rookie season.
Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates starting pitcher Cole growing in his 1st full major-league season
- Friday’s scouting report: Reds at Pirates
- Statistically speaking: Can Pirates contain Hamilton on bases
- Starkey: Bucs still battlin’
- Pirates notebook: McCutchen returns to starting lineup; Alvarez out
- Rossi: Pirates showing more this summer
- Monday’s scouting report: Cardinals at Pirates
- Wednesday’s scouting report: Cardinals at Pirates