I mean, when Santana and Silva were moved, the question we asked ourselves was, "How in the world are we going to compete with these bunch of drooling, barely potty-trained starters?". The funny thing is that Francisco Liriano has nothing to do with our success this season. As a matter of fact, if we would have let him rot in Triple-A for the first four months of the year, he would have never imploded and cost the team wins. Minnesota could be 57-41 right now (or even a little better...)! Just a quick glance at the stat book tells me that that the Twins pitching has been solid not only in an accumulation of stats in 2008, but over the past few weeks as well. Baker, Perkins, Slowey, Hernandez and Blackburn have a combined 3.34 ERA over their past 15 total starts. Pretty amazing stuff. Compare that with their 4.03 ERA on the year, and things have actually gotten better.
With all this in mind, we come to the entire reason why I'm writing today - Francisco Liriano. His well-documented start to the season scared the life out of Twins fans, but a resurgent past couple of weeks in Triple-A have our hearts a-twitter. And for good reason, too... the guy logged 20 scoreless innings, fanning 24 batters over that span. Then this past Monday, he went eight innings and struck out eight batters, allowing just one run. For those of you counting at home, that's a 0.32 ERA matched up with sick 10.28 K/9 and 0.174 WHIP peripherals. The question isn't if he's ready, but when.
The answer isn't easy, and it's the very thing that GM Bill Smith and the Twins front office continue to debate. Is Livan Hernandez too much of a "glue guy" to send packing? Should we move one of the other younger starters to the bullpen? It seems as if the answer is simply to wait. Wait and see if Liriano can dominate with consistency - hit his spots, throw that nasty slider with authority and continue to go deep into games. Wait and see if Livan will finally go into the tank and deem himself worthy of removal. Wait and see if Perkins, Blackburn or Slowey's wheels start to fall off. My solution: Send down Bonser (terrible in relief), bring up Liriano and move Blackburn to the bullpen. Maybe you disagree, but it seems like the move that will a) Rock the boat the least, b) Help the team the most. And that's really what we're looking for, right?
A couple of notes:
- No one's talking about Anthony Slama, so I'm going to do it now. He's a 24-year-old closer at Fort Myers, and he's the most dominant pitcher in baseball (stats-wise/pound-for-pound). In 53 innings of relief, he's got 87 strikeouts (other-worldly 14.77 K/9) and a ridiculous 0.68 ERA. On top of that, the guy is holding opposing batters to a .168 average. I need an explanation as to why he's not been moved up. A little overdue, if you ask me.
- Secondly, Ben Revere (remember the undersized CF that would NEVER play in the Majors, according to scouts) is hitting .400 at Low-A Beloit. Kid is mashing, raking, destroying and killing the ball. Keep your eye on him!
- Last, Luke Hughes, who I've been in love with all year, is back from that DL stint and has gone 0-for-9 in his past two games combined. The batting average is still at .316 and his OBP is a solid .387. If not for injury, he'd be at Triple-A Rochester by now. Thanks for reading, and I'll hopefully be posting more often if more than one person reads this. Have an awesome day, and BEAT THE Yankees!!! Game time is 6:05 CST and we've got Blackburn vs. Ponson.