Francisco Liriano (36, RP)
For all of the struggles that the bullpen faced last year, the middle-inning guys actually held their own. The Phillies finished middle-to-top of the league in most categories, outside of home runs and batting average. Just like the rest of the Phillies’ staff, the middle relievers got hit a lot and hit hard. In his first year as a full-time reliever, Francisco Liriano had his best season since the start of his stint with the Pirates. Liriano was the go-to workhorse out of the bullpen, throwing 70 innings for the Pirates, maintaining a 3.49 ERA, a .232 batting average against, and only giving up one home run per nine innings.
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The Phillies used 34 different pitchers in 2019, tied for the 6th-most in the league, with only two players surpassing 50 innings-pitched. Adding another left-hander to the bullpen, with a right-handed dominated starting rotation, feels like a perfect match, especially given Liriano’s ability to eat up innings. His ability to get ground balls bodes well for stranding runners, which the Phillies had much success with last season.
The lingering question around Liriano is obviously his age, coming into his 36-year-old season. This would allow the Phillies to pick him up at a lower cost than a younger reliever, but with age runs the risk of breaking down and decline in production.
With a regulatory approach to his workload, and hopefully with other bullpen guys taking a stand for their position, Liriano can seamlessly fit into a niche he has started to carve for himself.