If Francisco Liriano's 20 inning scoreless streak was the sign that he was ready to rejoin the Minnesota Twins, then his latest outing added neon and flashing lights to that sign. Seriously, that sign is starting to look like it came from Vegas.
Liriano went seven innings, gave up just four base runners (two hits and two walks), and struck out 10. His ERA is down to 3.34, 2.37 in his last 10 starts, and he hasn't had a WHIP above one since mid June.
The Twins' well-documented problem is that they don't have a rotation spot for him, since they simply cannot seem to be able to find a buyer for Livan Hernandez.
Conventional wisdom makes Glen Perkins the spare part, but Perkins has six quality starts in his last nine outings, and he missed the innings requirement in two of the others.
Slowey, on the other hand, has hit the pitchers equivalent of a slump. He has given up at least four runs and hasn't gone more than six innings.
Simply put, it's a bad time for a skid. if Slowey had had this run before the break, it wouldn't be a cause for much alarm; with Liriano beating down the door to get back up with the team, however, Slowey may be pitching his way back to Rochester without actually pitching all that poorly.
Slowey is a year younger and projects better, which might be what keeps him in the rotation, but neither really stand to gain much by dropping down. Perkins is the better suited of the two to help the bullpen, but both are better off as starters. Both pitchers struggled against the Yankees, but that probably hurts Slowey more than it does Perkins, since Perkins had been very good in his previous outings.
Liriano must be available for the White Sox series, a home series that looms large for the Twins. After this series, the Twins and Sox won't face one another until the second to last series of the season, so a series win is a must.
Sadly, neither pitcher will get a chance to prove themselves before the critical games begin. Liriano may be called into service based on a bad side session or just a hunch by Gardy or Rick Anderson.
He won't get much of a chance to face live major league hitters before he'd have to face the dangerous Sox lineup, but he still gives the Twins a better chance to win than either a slumping Slowey or a less-than-perfect Glen Perkins.