Twins starter Francisco Liriano had a breakout season in 2010, going 14-10 in 31 starts covering 191+ innings, with a 3.62 ERA, 2.95 xFIP, and a K/BB rate of 3.47, a career high. Along with the high K/BB rate, Liriano started throwing more ground balls, as he raised his GB% from 40% in 2009 to 54% last year. Some, including me, thought he would carry his breakout season into 2011.
Well, not so fast Fake Teams writer. Liriano started the season going 1-4 with a 9.13 ERA AND 5.25 xFIP in 23+ innings ptiched. His strikeout rate is down to just under 7.00 per nine innings, but he is still inducing ground balls to the tune of 53% again, but he has had some bad luck with his LOB% at 55% and his HR/FB% over 14%. Things got so bad, I was so bold to advise fantasy owners that he should be dropped.
That was a bad idea. Why you ask? Because Liriano answered my call to drop him by throwing a no-hitter vs the White Sox last night. He did walk 6 and only struck out 2, but he did induce 12 ground ball outs vs 13 flyball outs. He threw 123 pitches with only 66 going for strikes. Last year he threw 120+ pitches in a game just once. His next outing after that he gave up 5 runs in 6 innings of work.
I watched the 9th inning and the announcers were saying Liriano has never pitched a complete game in his career, so he made the first one memorable.