Playoff Preview: Francisco Liriano | The Process Report

Playoff Preview: Francisco Liriano

By R.J. Anderson //

By now, I’m sure everyone has noticed that all of the playoff previews have focused on the Texas Rangers. Three reasons why: 1) At heart, I’m an optimist. 2) At mind, I’m a realist. Both were screaming that the division would be the Rays for the taking given the schedules. Whoops. 3) I’m impatient. Because of three, I cannot sit back and cross my fingers that the Rays play the Rangers. Instead, here’s a play on the Cliff Lee post aimed towards Francisco LIriano – the likely game one starter.

In the Lee post, I wrote a lot about how Lee rides his fastball. He sort of resembles David Price in that sense. Yeah, well, Lirano is almost the exact opposite. Pitchers generally rely on their fastball once they fall behind, right? Liriano’s fastball usage in counts he trails is still lower than Lee and Price’s normal fastball usage rates. Lirianod instead relies upon his slider and changeup.

As you would suspect, the changeup only comes into play against right-handed batters, but the slider is fair game to both, particularly lefties. Lee likes slamming righties inside and Liriano isn’t too different in that regard, however he really, really enjoys going down and away to them too in a manner similar to Price. He’s going to live down in the zone, either at the bottom of the zone or below it. With that in mind, is it any wonder that his groundball percentage is over 50%?

Liriano’s fastball boasts impressive velocity and he throws it for strikes, but it doesn’t miss as many bats as you would suspect from an ace southpaw’s heater. That is to say, he’s of a different feather than Lee or Price, although his performances make him part of the elite family regardless.

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