Francisco Liriano, Saturday night’s starting pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, has been really good in 2013. If pitching wins are your thing, he has 11 of them. If ERA and WHIP are your things, well then he has a 2.16 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. If ERA+ is your thing, well then he will dazzle you with his 164 mark.
And if strikeouts are your thing, well then his 100 strikeouts in 95.2 IP, good for a 9.4 K/9, is right up your alley.
There was some doubt if Liriano would be healthy at all for 2013. Once it was known that he would at least be able to pitch, there was still a chance that the Pirates’ gamble wouldn’t pay off. Not only has it paid off; Liriano, an NL All-Star this year, is on the short list of reasons that the Pirates stand an excellent chance to reach the playoffs.
The Colorado Rockies, who have fallen into gigantic slumps in 2013, face an extraordinarily difficult task against Liriano. It would be difficult with a full arsenal; it will be even more difficult with a lineup that is sans Carlos Gonzalez. If not for Michael Cuddyer‘s return to the lineup, things might be looking even more dire.
The offensive road numbers are not kind to the Rockies, fueling the “THEY ONLY HIT BECAUSE IT’S COORS FIELD” narrative. I would be more upset, but how am I supposed to defend a team that is batting .249 away from Denver? More troubling is their tendency to start striking out an alarming rate when they hit the road.
Their 478 strikeouts away from home are good for fourth worst in all of baseball, trailing only the Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, and tonight’s opponent, the Pirates. That number is a stark contrast to their 364 K’s at home, which is good for 7th best in all of baseball.
Blame it on the altitude, the hotel beds, or whatever else you want, but the Rockies start striking out like crazy on the road. Combine that with the fact that Liriano strikes out hitters at a top-10-in-baseball rate, and there might be a lot of swinging and missing from the guys in the visitor’s dugout Saturday night.