Phillies rumors: Five relievers worth trading for this year
Francisco Liriano is another starter-turned-reliever reviving his career this year. After signing a minor-league deal with the Pirates, Liriano has been arguably their best reliever and one of the key contributors to the team.
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Liriano posted a combined 4.89 ERA in 96 appearances over the last three years. In a free agency period that saw even the best players wait months for a new contract, Liriano had to take a minor-league deal to find a team. He was able to carve out a role as the go-to lefty in their bullpen, and he has not disappointed.
Liriano has allowed just two runs in 22.1 innings this year, both of which came on a home run. His 0.81 ERA is sixth-best among qualified relievers, and he has 1.0 pitching wins above replacement, which would rank first among Phillies relievers and third on the team behind Zach Eflin and Jerad Eickhoff.
Left-handed hitters have dominated Phillies relievers this year, while Liriano has dominated left-handed hitters. Philadelphia has a 5.49 fielding-independent pitching and 20.4% strikeout rate against lefties. Meanwhile, the left-handed Liriano has a 0.66 FIP and 50% strikeout rate against lefties. Adding Liriano would alleviate the club’s struggles in this area.
While Liriano has done well this season, he is by no means perfect. He has walked ten batters in 22.1 innings, 11% of opposing hitters faced. He has been fortunate with home runs with only 4.5% of fly balls hit off him leaving the park, well below his career average of 11.8%.
The Pirates currently have the 10th-best record in baseball and are just three games back in the NL Central, so it’s far too early to say if they will sell. They have been skidding since a hot start, which may be a sign of things to come. If they do wind up trading away pieces at the deadline, Liriano will likely be one of the first to go.