Astros: What to do with Francisco Liriano for the ALCS

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 08: Francisco Liriano
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 08: Francisco Liriano /

Francisco Liriano may not be used in any high-leverage roles for the Astros this postseason.

No matter what Francisco Liriano does for the rest of the postseason, he may be remembered for something else. He won’t be remembered for giving up the two-run homer to Rafael Devers in relief of Brad Peacock. Liriano won’t be remembered for his improved performance in September of his flops after the trade.

When we look back at the 2017 season, we could look back like the Red Sox do to Jeff Bagwell. Liriano could be forever the answer to a trivia question for the Blue Jays, who was traded to acquire Teoscar Hernandez? The answer will be Liriano, similar to the name Larry Anderson. While it’s still early in Hernandez’s career, but he hit eight homers in 26 games in Toronto.

Liriano the guy?

Not dissing the trade, but Liriano was targeted as a replacement for Tony Sipp on the postseason roster. It would have cost more to get players like Justin Wilson or Zach Britton. Jeff Luhnow saw some potential of a playoff caliber lefty specialist from a starter on the decline. This could still come to fruition in the ALCS, but does he even make the roster?

It is very customary to have a left-handed reliever on a playoff roster. If Liriano were not on the roster, Dallas Keuchel would be the only lefty on the roster. They would not use Keuchel out of the bullpen, so they need a lefty reliever. Following Liriano’s performance in Game 3, many people feel like we will not see him in any more high leverage situations this postseason.

No other options.

Reymin Guduan struggled this year and was sent home at the end of the season. The only other lefty reliever would have to be Tony Sipp, but he has lost the confidence of the team as well. In his last eight games of the season, Sipp showed glimpses of his 2015 form with a 1.69 ERA. He was the most reliable reliever for the Astros in 2015, could he be that again?

It would be a huge leap of faith for A.J. Hinch to go with Sipp over Liriano. In the postseason this year and last, Liriano has served in the bullpen. He did do his job in his first game in the ALDS, but the echoes of Dever’s homer will make Hinch gun-shy to put him in. With the possible need for Collin McHugh, Liriano has to be a little nervous.

Next: Astros: Indians or Yankees the better matchup for the ALCS?

The matchups in the ALCS will decide the final roster cuts. Liriano could still play a vital role in the World Series push. Knowing what Luhnow sees in him, I’m pretty sure he would make the roster. The pitch to Dever’s was a mistake, he hung a slider, but he has shown signs of dominance.

***Stats from Baseball-Reference***