[Insert boilerplate title about how important Francisco Liriano is to the Pirates]

Having the Pirates be on the West Coast during trade deadline week, then dropping a bomb about the team being interested in Jon Lester is the ultimate tease. Now, we’ve got hours to sit around and torture ourselves with scenarios in which the Pirates make huge deadline deals, then we get to stay up until 1 AM watching baseball, then we get to wake up early and do it all over again tomorrow. I’ll write more about the Lester rumors tomorrow morning (unless circumstances obviously change), just because I need some more time to digest everything.

Tonight is yet another Francisco Liriano start that will be closely studied and analyzed to determine if he can be The Old Francisco Liriano Wait No Not That Old Francisco Liriano But Like The One That Pitched For The Pirates Last Year. The key signs that TOFLWNNTOFLBLTOTPFTPLY has returned seem to mostly lie in velocity. If Liriano can ramp his fastball up to 95 and his slider up to 90, he’s awfully difficult to hit. I’m not sure that this Giant lineup is presents much of a challenge for him (or for anyone, at this point), so he’s got a decent chance to keep things moving in the right direction here. Of course, the games on Friday, Saturday, and Monday make me feel like I don’t know much about baseball, so take that for what it’s worth.

The Giants are starting Tim Hudson, who’s been excellent this year, but it’s the sort of excellent that if he was on the Pirates’ pitching staff you’d be wondering if he was excellent because of good luck and good defense, or because he’d legitimately rediscovered himself. He’s also right-handed, which is a relief. It’s too early for a lineup, but presumably Pedro Alvarez will be in it and I’d have to think he’s in direct competition with Josh Harrison for playing time right now, assuming that Starling Marte will be back in the nearish future. It is possible that a win will put the Pirates into a playoff position. Remember: every game is a big game from here on out.

First pitch tonight is at 10:15.

Image: Chad Keinz, Flickr

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.