Thursday, July 27, 2017

This week in Francisco Liriano

In the name of emphasizing the absurd overreaction to the Pirates dumping of Francisco Liriano's terrible contract last year, the logical take on which you can read here, FTC is proud to introduce a new recurring segment in which we look at why it's good that the Pirates got rid of the worst pitcher in baseball.

Now the Blue Jays don't even want him. Per MLB Trade Rumors:

2:14pm: The Jays and Royals are “making progress” on a deal involving Liriano, reports’s Jon Morosi (via Twitter).
2:03pm: Francisco Liriano has struggled mightily this season, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the lefty is still drawing some interest. Sherman adds that the Blue Jays “may be close to dealing him.” To this point, the Royals have been the one club that has been definitively connected to the 33-year-old Liriano.
Playing out the final season of a three-year, $39MM contract, Liriano has seen his strikeout, walk and ground-ball rates each trend in the wrong direction, and his ERA has correspondingly soared to an unpalatable 5.99. Liriano’s 8.2 K/9, 4.9 BB/9 and 43.1 percent grounder rate would all rank as his worst marks since a disastrous 2012 campaign split between the Twins and White Sox...Nearly all of his struggles this season have come against right-handed hitters (.289/.394/.512), as he’s limited opposing lefties to a putrid .241/.267/.379 batting line. Liriano has a 16-to-1 K/BB ratio against lefties in 2017 and has struck out nearly 27 percent of the left-handed hitters he’s faced.
I've been pretty delinquent in keeping up with "This Week in Francisco Liriano" since the first installment, and I know that's a lot of text up there, and you're probably pissed that you're reading this instead of Chris Cillizza's #hottakes, so let's just look at those numbers one more time:

8.2 K/9, 4.9 BB/9, 5.99 ERA, 1.67 WHIP. The home runs are up, too: 1.29/9.

He's faced 351 batters in 76.2 innings. That's 121 over the minimum. That is what happens when you walk 12 percent of the hitters you face. Now, a middling AL Central team is looking at him as possible bullpen piece, mostly because they wouldn't have to give up anything to get him as long as they're willing to eat the final two months of his contract.

Before we go, let's check in with The Prince Who Was Promised, Reese McGuire. Here's the most recent note on the Pirates' former catcher of the future:
7.21.2017McGuire (knee) was removed from Double-A New Hampshire's disabled list to begin a rehab assignment at the Jays complex in Dunedin.
McGuire has played in 22 minor league games this season, 16 of which have been in AA. His numbers from those games: .216/.311/.373. He has played a total of 37 games since being traded. But I'm sure his defense has been otherworldly, and that the baseball fans of New Hampshire sing songs about his pitch-framing abilities.

And what of Harold Ramirez, the plucky little outfielder who was also one of the Pirates' top 10 prospects at the time of the deal?

Through 348 plate appearances in 88 games in AA this year, Harry is slashing .260/.304/.373 with an abysmal 5.5 percent walk rate. Six homers! Four steals! Harold Ramirez! Get him up the fuck up here!

Sure, these are small sample sizes, and yes, both guys are still just 22. But this is not what you want to see from the guys scouts consistently rate as your top prospects. Disturbingly, it's pretty close to the norm for what the Pirates have been getting out of their higher draft picks. That these guys were top 10 prospects in their system says more about that system than it does about the players. 

But yeah, worst trade ever. You're all idiots.

With the trade deadline looming, stay tuned for expanded FTC coverage of Tyler Glasnow's frustrating attempts at properly using a light switch.

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