I glossed over the more analytical aspects of last night’s game in my recap from last night, but I wanted to follow up on Francisco Liriano’s start since I’ve been paying so much attention to his performance to start the year. I watched the ESPN feed last night (there was no ROOT feed last night due to the Pens’ game and I really cannot stand the Reds’ broadcast team on a normal night — then I got beyond infuriated with them when they spent the first inning discussing Liriano in a fashion that sure seemed to be lifted more or less directly off of this blog) and they still use the awful side-angle camera that used to be the norm at PNC, so it was hard to get a feel for Liriano’s stuff last night. The PitchFX numbers from Brooks Baseball are pretty promising, though.
First things first, Liriano’s fastball velocity was back at a 2013 level last night. He threw 38 fastballs/sinkers and they averaged 93+ and topped out at 95. That fastball total is still a bit low (he threw 39 sliders), but the big slider total was party due to Joey Votto and Jay Bruce in the Reds’ lineup, I think. Liriano was back to using his fastball as his primary pitch against righties (31 fastballs, 24 sliders, 23 changeups), which I’d read as a good sign that he felt more confident with it last night. His slider isn’t quite back to the velocity it was at last year, but it’s trending upwards and was as high as it’s been all year last night.
This probably seems a bit strange since I wasn’t all that impressed with Liriano’s first start against the Reds and his line was better last week than it was last night, but I’d definitely read his outing last night as progress in a direction towards the pitcher that he was last year, and that’s definitely a good sign.