Monday, April 14, 2008

He's Back?

The tone should be easy to infer from the title. Francisco Liriano's first start was, without considering the circumstances, a disaster. Of course, you can't ignore the circumstances: it was his first major league outing since September of 2006 and he underwent Tommy John surgery later that year (in November).

I was really excited to see him back--as was everybody--and subsequently disappointed with this outing. But at the same time, I've tempered my expectations for a while. Obviously, yesterday's performance was uninspiring, but you can't put much stock in it. A good performance would have been fantastic while this can simply be called typical. He was up and down during the spring and his rehab starts (with more downs really) and was making his first start in the big leagues in a year and a half.

It goes without saying that it was great to see him throw 90 pitches and not have any physical problems. Hopefully, he can build off of this and get better with each start. I expect that he will make a few more starts at the very least, especially with Kevin Slowey now on the DL. It will be interesting to see what the Twins will do if he continues to struggle. Of course, I hope he doesn't, but if this scenario does occur, what will they do? Do you send him back to AAA when Slowey comes back? Or perhaps to the bullpen? What if one of the other pitchers starts to struggle too? Or are the Twins committed to keeping him in the rotation for the remainder of the year?

Liriano is not the only who has struggled recently though. Carlos Gomez's and Joe Mauer's batting averages have dropped precipitously, to .259 and .244, respectively (it's currently the third inning of the game). Adam Everett is still hitting .125 and Justin Morneau, although obviously improved from his awful start, is only batting .214. As of yet, none of the Twins' hitters have been all that impressive, with the possible exception of Matt Tolbert. That's not to say that all of them are playing terribly, just that none have been impressive.

Nick Blackburn, who is making his third start, has now opened the game with three scoreless innings. That means the Tigers have not scored a run in their last 22 innings. Amazing.

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