January 5, 2010

Liriano's "throwing the living fire out of the ball"

Ron Gardenhire spoke to reporters on Monday and when the attention shifted to Francisco Liriano, he eagerly replied:
"I just got a report that he's throwing the living fire out of the ball down in the Dominican (Republic). He threw eight innings the other day, and his fastball was 92 to 94 (mph) and his slider was filthy. That's a really good thing, because he can be the bonus if we can get him on track."

Gardenhire's quote supports Liriano's impressive stat line from the Dominican Winter League. Through three starts, Liriano has thrown 11 2/3 innings, given up two runs and has struck out 17 batters. But the most important number people are looking at are his walks allowed, which is two.

Liriano expects to fight for the final rotation spot in Spring Training. As of right now, Anthony Swarzak, Jeff Manship, Brian Duensing and Glen Perkins will also compete for the same spot with Perkins and Duensing expecting to be his biggest competition.

The Twins have several starting pitchers in the system with bright futures but Liriano may have the best shot at becoming an ace. That may be hard to believe after he finished last season with an ugly 5-13 record and 5.80 ERA, but the silver lining was that he increased his velocity and made improvements with his slider and change-up. Liriano's main problem was that he struggled throwing strikes, primarily with his fastball which may have been the least effective pitch in all of baseball last season. Hearing that his fastball was sitting between 92 and 94 mph is great and seeing that he's only walked two batters is even more important.

But Twins fans: beware. There have been several reports that suggest Liriano's turned a leaf just to find out for ourselves that he truly hasn't. Still, any good report is worth noting.


rghrbek said...

Remember all of Carlos Silva's "hall of fame" bullpen outings, that Andy and Gardy used to rave about?

Same thing. Drives me crazy, all the false bravado.

Liriano is a failed pitcher, until he pitches well in spring training, and translates that to regular season games (in the bullpen would be my guess).

If people really believe he can be something decent, then we should deal him to replenish our minor leagues with some position players.

I just don't buy he will ever be any good again.

Josh Johnson said...

Not disagreeing with you on him having to translate these good outings to something meaningful, just something to report on being as there's absolutely nothing Twins-related in the news.