For the Minnesota Twins, their Jekyll-and-Hyde starter, Francisco Liriano, is once again throwing like a pitcher that knows what he's doing. The timing is almost perfect as the non-waiver trading deadline approaches, and teams are looking for help to make a push in the second half of the season.
The credit for his turnaround has to be given to Scott Diamond.
This season has been a microcosm of Liriano's career since having Tommy John surgery that ended his 2006 season and caused him to miss the entire 2007 season. In the even years of 2008 and 2010, Liriano had a 20-14 record with a decent 3.70 ERA. In the odd seasons of 2009 and 2011, he went 14-23 with a 5.45 ERA.
That certainly meant that heading into the 2012 season Liriano would have a better season than the 9-10 record with a 5.09 ERA he had in 2011. Of course, that has not been the case.
After opening the season 1-5 with a 9.45 ERA in six starts, the Twins moved him to the bullpen after his May 7th loss to the Angles.
The day after Liriano's fifth loss, left-hander Diamond would make his first start of the season.
While watching from the bullpen, Liriano saw Diamond lead the Twins in May with a 3-1 record in four starts with a 2.27 ERA.
Liriano was promoted back to the starting rotation on May 30th. Since then he has a 3-2 record in eight starts with a 2.74 ERA.
Perhaps all he needed was someone to show by example what it takes to win.
It would explain the results in 2006. Liriano joined the Twins rotation midway through the season. That year, another left-hander, Johan Santana, earned his second American League Cy Young award with a 19-6 record and a league-leading 2.77 ERA.
Liriano was 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA in 28 games and 16 starts. It was in August that he started having problems with his elbow that would eventually end his season, leading to the Tommy John surgery.
By the time he returned to the Twins rotation in 2008, Santana was in New York pitching for the Mets. Liriano had lost his mentor, leaving the likes of Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey and Nick Blackburn to show him the way. While two of the three have been serviceable starters, none were ever anywhere close to dominating hitters like Santana.
Now, with Diamond dominating on the mound for the Twins, Liriano once again has another left-hander to show him how to win.
Just in time to turn around his 2012 season and allow the Twins get some value in a trade for him.
Hopefully, wherever he lands there will be another dominating left-hander. Perhaps the Twins could package Liriano and Denard Span in a deal to Washington. Gio Gonzalez currently leads the Nationals with an 11-3 record and a 3.01 ERA, and he is left-handed.
If the Twins can get something in return for Liriano they should give all the credit to Diamond.
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