It should be no surprise that Francisco Liriano and Melky Cabrera made the opening day roster. The maniacs in the comments sections of DKPittsburghSports (subscription required) are pointing at both as being examples of the Pirates sucking. These same people would have criticized it had they been cut.
Last season Liriano held players the first time through the lineup to .221/.316/.319/.635 AVG/OBA/SLG/OPS. When facing LHH anytime during the game he held them to .170/.255/.261/.516 while striking out 22.6% of them. Yes, Liriano is not the same pitcher he once was. He does have questionable control at times. Hurdle doesn’t typically use a LOOGY. These are all fair points to bring up. But the sky-is-falling Chicken Little displays over at DK have become parody.
Cabrera was good enough last season to play in 78 games for the AL Central Division Champions Cleveland Indians and hit .310 this spring. That is a fine player to have on the bench. Playing RF in PNC should help alleviate some of his defensive shortcomings. Cabrera’s average exit velocity last year was 90.4 MPH which is about 3 more than league average. Cabrera did struggle getting the ball in the air with his slugging at .421.
Another player they hate over there is Dovydas Neverauskas, RP out of Lithuania, who had a fine spring. In 6.1 innings he struck out 10 and allowed no walks and no HR’s. He attacks the zone and appears his control may be improving. Last March an anonymous scout had this to say about him for Sports Illustrated, “He’s got a good arm, mid-90’s, pretty good change up, pretty good slider. He’s just very inexperienced.” In 2017, MLB.com’s had him ranked as the Pirates’ #23 prospect and had this to say about him, “He’ll throw his fastball 95-98 mph range while mixing in those effective sliders and cutters, both Major League average pitches. He goes right after hitters, missing bats and inducing weak contact on the ground… He has the chance to impact the big league bullpen soon, with a ceiling of a set-up man.” He’s entering this season at age 26 and made the International League All-Star Game last season. It stands to reason as he gains experience he’ll continue to show improvement.