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Sports

May 25, 2013

Fantasy Forecast: Don’t buy into Liriano’s resurgence in Pittsburgh

Yo ho, yo ho, it’s a Pirate’s life for Francisco Liriano.

After basically being written off following a number of disappointing seasons in the American League Central, Liriano has sprung back to life with a move to Pittsburgh and the National League this season. He’s an impressive 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in three starts. He also has 25 strikeouts to just six walks and an opponents’ batting average allowed of .206 in 18 innings pitched.

But before you get too wrapped up in his start, take a moment to reflect and you’ll realize this probably won’t last.

In looking at Liriano’s numbers, there are some red flags. For instance, his strikeout-per-nine innings rate is up almost 3 (from 9.59 in 2012 to 12.50 this season), and his walk rate is down almost 2 (from 5.00 in 2012 and 5.02 in 2011 to 3.00 this year).

Interestingly, his velocity and pitch selection appear to be about the same, leading one to question how he’s excelling with basically the same set of pitches at the same velocity when it didn’t get the job done previously.

Liriano topped Yahoo!’s most added list this week and is up to 49 percent ownership. Perhaps you could ride the wave and utilize him in a streaming plan, but expecting anything more than that would be a fool’s errand.

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Brandon Belt has come alive of late. The one-time hot prospect is hitting .359 with 3 home runs, 8 RBI and 11 runs scored in the last two weeks.

But as with Liriano, let’s not get carried away.

Even with the recent hot stretch, Belt is still only hitting .252 and is striking out at about the same rate as he has in the past (an almost identical 22.5 percent). Moreover, his walk rate is actually down on the season, dropping from 11.4 percent in 2012 to 8.8 percent.

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