Before the 2012 Major League Baseball season started, everyone would have told you that the strength of the Atlanta Braves was pitching. They had a strong collection of arms at the top of the rotation, with plenty of depth in the high levels of the minor leagues to step in if needed.
Now, three months into the season, Brandon Beachy is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Tommy Hanson has been homer prone and inconsistent, while also showing much less velocity than he ever has.
Randall Delgado should be pitching in the bullpen. Mike Minor is a disaster. Jair Jurrjens is worse than Minor. Julio Teheran still has potential, though his stock has dropped over the last year.
Not to mention Arodys Vizcaino, who pitched out of the bullpen last year but could have been a starter this season with two plus pitches and a solid changeup, but he needed Tommy John surgery before the season.
There was a time when Liriano was one of the most promising left-handed starters in the game. That is no longer the case, but he has worked on his mechanics and delivery after a disastrous start to the season. He is at least respectable now.
In six starts since being put back in the Twins rotation, Liriano has allowed 20 hits, 14 walks, one home run and 10 earned runs in 37.1 innings, while striking out 40.
Four of those starts have come against four of the worst offenses in baseball (Kansas City, Chicago Cubs, Oakland and Pittsburgh), so it's not like he has been challenged with great competition. But there is clearly some progress being made.
And when you are the Braves, who have dealt with so much turmoil in the starting rotation only to find themselves 3.5 games behind Washington in the National League East, you have to be willing to take a risk somewhere.
Going to the National League could help Liriano even more than pitching against Kansas City, Oakland, Pittsburgh and Chicago. With the exception of St. Louis and Colorado (in Coors Field), the offenses in the senior circuit are so bad right now that even Bronson Arroyo is flirting with a no-hitter.
Having depth in a starting rotation is just as important as that one dominant arm over the course of 162 games. Right now, the Braves don't have either one.
Liriano may not be the perfect game-changing piece that fans love to see their team get in trades, but those players just aren't out there this year. He comes with a lot of risk, of course, but the Braves' backs are against the wall right now.
This team needs to find someone who can help keep it in the race the rest of the season. Liriano is as good an option as there is, and he would make a quality addition to the Braves starting rotation.
At the very least, he will be better than Livan Hernandez was.