“Every time I’d get guys on base, I was trying to do too much,” he said. “I would get too aggressive. I would get mad … and I would overthrow, and not think about locating my pitches. Now, when I get guys on base, I try to do the same thing I was doing before, just locate my pitches.”
Hurdle raves about those pitches, the “dynamite slider, that parachute changeup, the good two-seam fastball, the four-seam fastball.”
Those pitches and Liriano’s newfound ability to control them have made him the most unlikely ace on baseball’s most unlikely contender. He hasn’t posted an ERA lower than 5.09 since 2010. He’s won a career-high 15 games and is trying to become the first Pirates lefty to win more than 15 in a season since 1991. When his starts have followed a Pirates loss, he’s 8-2 with a 1.26 ERA.
Always quiet and polite, Liriano looks embarrassed when called an “ace.”
“No, no, I don’t consider myself an ace,” he said. “But I like to go out there and know the guys can count on me. I’m having a good time right now.”
Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. firstname.lastname@example.org