Francisco Liriano: Does He Have a Future with the Minnesota Twins?

Chris SchadContributor IIIJune 21, 2012

Watching Francisco Liriano pitch is like a trip to the dentist. While you're almost expecting excruciating pain, sometimes there can be some good news to come out of it. Still, you're usually finding yourself back in the lobby making another appointment for pain and torture.

With a month left before the July 31 trade deadline, it appears that the Twins are finally sick of going to the dentist.

Liriano has had an up-and-down 2012 season with the Twins. After a solid spring training, Liriano was lit up in his first six starts going 0-5 with a 9.45 ERA. Opponents were treating Liriano like the human tee when the Twins decided to throw him in the bullpen.

After several appearances with mixed results, Liriano made his return to the rotation on May 30. Since holding the Oakland Athletics to three hits and striking out nine over six innings, Liriano has been on fire.

While Liriano's recent streak has lead to just a 1-2 record over five starts, he's walked 12 batters over 30.1 innings and struck out 35. Opponents are hitting .155 off the left-hander, and he's starting to look like the pitcher that won the AL Comeback Player of the Year award in 2010.

It's not a shock that Liriano has continued the same up-and-down path that he's seen since his debut in 2005. However, the Twins have a decision to make as Liriano's contract ends this year.

The Twins need pitching, and in front of them they have a guy who has the potential to be an ace. Yes, we've heard that a lot, but compared to the other starting pitchers in the Twins' organization Liriano is the pitcher with the highest ceiling.

Still, the Twins may not want to commit long-term to someone like Liriano who has driven the coaching staff mad with his inconsistent performance.

In all likelihood, this is a tryout for Liriano as the Twins will try to ship him for prospects to rebuild their awful farm system. If the Twins could get a solid minor league prospect for Liriano, the organization would have to view that as a success.

It doesn't seem like a team would give up a blockbuster prospect for Liriano, but teams always need pitching around the trading deadline. Even last year, the Tigers acquired Doug Fister from the Seattle Mariners to ride his hot streak to the ALCS.

The Liriano era hasn't ended the way the Twins had hoped, but if some team likes what they see from him, it could mean a better future for the team overall.