Minnesota Twins

Francisco Liriano Makes Minnesota Twins True World Series Contender

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 30:  Pitcher Francisco Liriano #47 of the Minnesota Twins throws against the Pittsburgh Pirates  on March 30, 2010 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images
Tom ShefchikContributor IApril 29, 2010

It was a picture-perfect fall day in Minneapolis.

I was back in town to resume my collegiate studies, the sun was shining on my face, and the Twins had charged back into the playoff race, coming up on the slumping Detroit Tigers.

Life was good.

Then "The Text" came.

The Twins were playing an afternoon game that particular day, and rookie phenom Francisco Liriano was pitching against Oakland. He had been battling forearm pain and was making his first start back after a rehab stint in the minors.

I was at work during the game and received a text from a friend of mine. I can't print what it said, but it was angry and expletive-laden.

Liriano's elbow had just exploded.

The Twins were still able to finish off their remarkable comeback, winning the AL Central on the last day of the regular season. The good times ended shortly thereafter, however, as they were swept by the A's in the ALDS.

Fast-forward to today: Liriano is back to his former dominant form after three seasons of rehab and a lack of confidence, and the Twins are winning. Since they haven't had a true ace since 2006, when they had pre-surgery Liriano and Johan Santana, this is obviously important.

If anything, though, I don't believe this story is being talked about enough for this reason:

If the Twins want to win the World Series, they need Liriano to be dominant.

It's not impossible to win the World Series without an ace, but it's extremely difficult. All of the recent World Champions had a guy who was almost impossible to beat in the playoffs.

Last year's Yankees had CC Sabathia. Two years ago, the Phillies had Cole Hamels at the height of his powers and won all five games he started in the playoffs that year. Josh Beckett was dominant in the three postseasons his respective team won the World Series.

Closer to home, the last time the Twins won the Series, Jack Morris and his magical mustache pitched a 10-inning gem in the Game Seven that won the Twins the championship.

To be fair, the main reasons the Twins were swept by the Yankees in last year's ALDS were a lack of clutch hits and an egregiously bad call.

That said, if you have a guy who is good enough to almost guarantee two to three wins in a series, that is an enormous advantage. Also, when your team is going up against the likes of Sabathia and the Yankees, you feel like you have a legitimate shot to win that game.

I hope that Liriano continues to dominate and helps the Twins win in the playoffs.

I also hope I don't receive any expletive-riddled texts during any of his starts this season.

Tom Shefchik is a frequent contributor to Bleacher Report. He also has a blog here and can be followed on Twitter here.

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