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The Minnesota Twins exhausted most of their other rotation options and instead settled on the same hurler they booted earlier this month. Francisco Liriano's Wednesday return to the starting quintet teased the old, dominant lefty. He suffocated the Oakland Athletics for six shutout stanzas on 88 pitches, fanning nine, walking two, allowing three hits.
Any performance like that from a formerly heralded arm will prompt a pickup, especially in deeper setups. OK. You have permission to act, but you must also acknowledge that he accomplished this against the worst offense in the majors.
Only 51 of his pitches were strikes (58.0 percent), so he still has work to do, especially since he still had trouble with free passes in his relief cameos. Most Twins tossers that live around the black pay for it, but hey, as long as they don't walk people....
Though his enemies' swinging-strike rate has tumbled for two straight seasons, at least it's residing at an above-average percentage. If Liriano recaptures his formerly effective heat and pitches with more authority in the zone, this could be a waiver-wire find. You know the upside he offers when he stops nibbling around the plate.
Minnesota is likely doing all they can to ratchet up his trade value, so don't expect another demotion if he's at least capable. Though Target Field is a favorable atmosphere for pitching, a trade to a contender should improve his run support.
His journey of rediscovery as a Twinkie, unfortunately, will likely include some rough outings along the way, especially since he has had only a few weeks of tinkering. How much will you have to spend to get him? Can you absorb the blowup risk?
Liriano will travel to face the Kansas City Royals in his next outing and could face the Chicago Cubs or Philadelphia Phillies - both at home - after that. That's not a bad slate to ride if you have to play him upon acquiring him in weekly lineup leagues.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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