Francisco Liriano doesn’t play to stereotypes.
The Pirates left-hander doesn’t have the eccentricities associated with southpaws. He doesn’t display the flamboyance of most of his fellow Dominican pitchers.
Liriano never changes his facial expression or demeanor during his outings.
Once the game is over, it is hard to tell whether he won or lost when he meets with the media. He keeps his answers close to the vest, giving a measured response to every question, usually with some variation of “makes my pitches” theme.
However, the biggest label of all that Liriano hasn’t lived up to since joining the Pirates prior to the 2013 is underachiever, the reputation he developed over his eight seasons with the Minnesota Twins.
After going 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA as a rookie in 2006, he embarked on a career path in which he was good enough to throw a no-hitter yet bad enough to be banished to the bullpen — in the same season.
However, thanks to relatively good health and the tutelage of pitching coach Ray Searage, Liriano has been a model of consistency since coming to the Pirates.
He has gone 24-19 with a 3.15 ERA in 59 starts, allowing four earned runs or more just five times and two earned runs or less in 37 outings.
In four starts this season, he is 1-1 with a 2.22 ERA while striking out 30 in 24 1-3 innings.
Liriano has made 11 starts since last Aug. 25 and compiled a 1.57 ERA, which is the best among major league starters who have pitched at least 60 innings in that span.
The least impressed person in baseball about that run, though, is Liriano.
“I never think about that,” he said of statistics. “I just try to get myself ready for the next start and try to do the same thing every start and move forward and not think about any numbers.”
That attitude is also why Liriano is not bummed out about his record being just 5-1 in those starts because he did not figure in the decision in five of them.
“What matters in the end is if we get the win,” Liriano said. “It doesn’t matter if I get the win. It’s that we get the win as a team.”
The Pirates, not coincidentally, have been winning ever since Liriano came to town.