Francisco Liriano Makes His Case For a Call Up

Grant HadlichContributor IJuly 17, 2008

When the Minnesota Twins sent down Francisco Liriano at the beginning of this season, things did not look good. 

When the Twins phenom was sent down to Triple-A, his numbers were staggering and not in a good way.  Sporting a WHIP of 2.71 and an ERA of 11.32 in 10.1 innings, it was clear that the young southpaw was not ready for major league hitters after his Tommy John surgery.

After working on his control problems in the minors, Liriano is making a strong argument for his return to the Twins.  His last four starts have been dominant to the tune of 28 IP, 17 hits, 32 strikeouts, and only three walks, all the while giving up only one run en route to an ERA of 0.32, a 0.71 WHIP, and for those interested a SWIP of 1.25. 

While the ERA is eye popping, the most important stat is the WHIP of 0.71.  Before being called up by the Twins in 2005, Liriano recorded a 0.88 WHIP in 16 starts at Triple-A, so a sub-1 WHIP for Liriano is not unheard of and is a very good sign that his control has sharpened considerably.

When the Twins call up Liriano, the question arises on who to demote/release.  Livan Hernandez is the obvious answer. In his last 10 starts, Livan has a 7.28 ERA, all the while amassing an awful WHIP of 1.89.  Not exactly Cy Young numbers.

The one big problem with releasing Livan is the youth of the Minnesota Twins' pitchers.  None of the Twins' young pitchers has ever approached 200 innings at the major league level, the closest being Boof Bonser when he threw 173 innings for the Twins last year, so durability might become a question mark. 

One solution to this problem is to have a six man rotation with Hernandez, Baker, Perkins, Slowey, Blackburn, and Liriano. This approach would reduce the number of innings pitched by the young pitchers, all the while increasing the amount of rest between starts.

With Boof Bonser as an insurance policy, the Twins should release or trade Livan to make room for Liriano in the starting rotation. If one of the starters starts to develop a dead arm or simply tires out, Boof could be placed in the rotation while the other pitcher is placed in the bullpen. 

As of right now, trading Livan Hernandez for Francisco Liriano is a must for the Twins if they are serious about making it to the playoffs.