Frankie 2006 vs. Frankie 2009
A week or so ago, Jim Souhan (a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper) wrote an article about how the “2006” Francisco Liriano (with the essentially unhittable slider) will never return, but maybe the current version can recreate some of that success. The article can be found here:
After reading the article, although I know that Souhan was just trying to “tell it like it is”, I really didn’t think that Souhan was making a fair comparison.
In 2006, Liriano came up from the minor leagues and absolutely sent the league on fire. His stats were incredible (12-3, 121 IP, 144 K, 2.16 ERA), and starts like these proved that hitters just couldn’t touch that sizzling fastball and devastating changeup:
Yet, come September of ’06, Liriano felt his arm “snap” while out on the mound…
Likely due to a violent delivery that put extra strain/torque on his arm, Liriano ended up needing Tommy John surgery on the arm and missed the entire 2007 season. When he finally made it back in 2008, his early-season outings ended with many conversations like this…
He did manage to make some quality starts after a long stint in the minor leagues, but the jury was still out as to whether he could even come close to the same type of domination he showed in ’06.
So far this season, Liriano (2-4, 40 IP, 33 K, 5.75 ERA) has had very mixed results. In some starts he has been very solid (http://minnesota.twins.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?mid=200905054423501&c_id=min), while other times batters have seemed to tee off on him (like most other Twins starting pitchers this year).
Clearly, a little more time is needed to see whether or not Liriano can make a comeback from his arm injury, but let’s not compare him back to his former 2006 self. He’s trying to dominate again without the violent delivery and wrist motion, and sometimes he has done so, while other times he has struggled. Remember, Mr. Souhan, if he goes EXACTLY back to his ’06 form, he had better keep up to date on his health insurance premiums. Personally, I’d rather have him healthy and battling then spectacular but always one pitch away from disaster.
Preview (15-17, 3rd, 3.0 GB DET): Armando Galarraga (3-2, 4.08) vs. Kevin Slowey (4-1, 5.50). We’re only three games out?! What a division!