The Pirates had only four starting pitchers penciled into their rotation for next season, so the need for a starter was obvious, but it was thought the club would trade veteran closer Joel Hanrahan for a starting pitcher, not grab one of the top arms left on the free-agent market.
The 29-year-old Liriano is not the perennial Cy Young candidate that the Minnesota Twins and fans hoped he would be, following his stellar 2006 rookie campaign in which he posted a 2.16 ERA and 4.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but the southpaw still gives enough glimpses of his former self to remain in an MLB rotation.
Liriano underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007, and has struggled to regain his form ever since. The left-hander managed to post a 3.62 ERA in 2010 and threw a no-hitter early in 2011, but he owns a 4.75 ERA overall in the five seasons since his surgery. Last season, he went 3-10 with a 5.31 ERA with the Twins; traded to the White Sox in late July, Liriano won just three times in 11 starts and contributed to that team's collapse down the stretch.