Liriano is the 19th player (not including Nick Markakis, who chose to return to play after initially opting out) to spend this season on the sidelines. He is one of several players to have made such a decision in the immediate aftermath of COVID-19 outbreaks within the Marlins and Cardinals organizations.
Liriano, of course, wasn’t on an MLB roster and so won’t change his current status, but as stated by Murray, the veteran southpaw may have been poised to ink a deal with a team in the near future.
Instead, he’ll have to wait until the winter to do so, assuming there’s still interest when a new crop of free agents hit the market. Notably, teams won’t be able to deploy Liriano as a typical lefty specialist given new MLB rules. However, that shouldn’t hurt Liriano too much, owing to his background as a starter; he average more than an inning per appearance last year.
His 2019 season, spent with the Pirates, was the first time in Liriano’s 14-year career he was deployed exclusively as a reliever, and it was a relatively successful transition for the former All-Star. In 69 games for Pittsburgh, he worked 70 innings and finished with a 3.47 ERA, striking out 63 batters. As has long been the case for the southpaw, he was prone to walking batters, surrendering a base on balls every two innings, on average.
He still boasts two deadly offerings, with a stellar slider and a changeup that allows him to compete with right-handed batters. Contrary to what you might expect of a 36-year-old veteran, his velocity hasn’t declined significantly from his Twins days, though the changeup-slider combination is still the bread and butter of his repertoire. He threw the changeup more often than ever last year, and the pitch yielded a swing-and-miss on 43.4% of offerings, which, coupled with a slider with a comparable 42.1% whiff rate, should make Liriano a viable lefty for plenty of teams next year.