STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Admit it: When the Pirates signed Francisco Liriano to a minor-league deal before the season started, a wave of nostalgia washed upon you.
Perhaps the PBC brass were in their feelings as well. How else could we explain the willingness -- albeit on a minor-league deal -- to offer up a potential 25-man roster spot to a pitcher who had been fading from his prime at such a rapid rate? From 2016 though 2018, Liriano saw his strikeouts per nine innings fall from 9.28 in 2016 to 7.41 last season, while his walks per nine registered at 4.92 in each of those two campaigns.
#FilthyFrankie he was not.
And that makes what he's doing now all the more surprising. Liriano is quietly making a claim toward serving as the Pirates' second-best reliever behind that special individual by the name of Felipe Vazquez.