Baker, who finished last season 11-4 with a 3.45 ERA, signed a four-year, $15.25-million deal in the winter.
An injury in Spring Training landed him on the 15-day disabled list to start the year, and after losing his first start 12-2 to Toronto in the Metrodome, things haven't gotten much better for Baker. In three starts, he is 0-3 with a miserable 9.82 ERA.
Liriano took the mound on Opening Day as the ace of the Twins' rotation.
At 25, he has the potential to be the next Johan Santana, but Tommy John surgery cost the lefty the 2007 season and it has been a long, slow return back to the elite.
2009 hasn't started off the way Liriano nor the Twins would have liked. He is 0-4 with a 6.04 ERA in five starts. And just when it looked like Liriano would notch his first win of the season Tuesday against the Rays, usually reliable closer Joe Nathan gave up a towering home run on the very first pitch of the ninth inning to blow the save.
Still, Liriano's line looked fine, as he gave up just two runs in 6.2 innings in his best outing of the season.
If the Twins want to finish atop a much-improved and highly competitive AL Central, they'll need Baker and Liriano to turn things around.
If these two, along with Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins and Nick Blackburn, can consistently provide quality starts, the fans in Minnesota might just get a glimpse of a Twins team capable of accomplishing what the 1987 team did: Win the World Series behind young, talented, and underrated pitching.
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