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2011 Fantasy Projections, No. 71: Should You Trust Twins' Francisco Liriano?

MINNEAPOLIS - OCTOBER 06: Francisco Liriano #47 of the Minnesota Twins delivers a pitch in the second inning against the New York Yankees during game one of the ALDS on October 6, 2010 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
Nick KappelAnalyst IIIMarch 8, 2011

Our 2011 fantasy baseball projections will be released one-by-one until the top 100 players have been revealed. These rankings consider past achievements, current performance and expected future results based on standard 5×5 H2H settings.

More than three years removed from Tommy John surgery, Francisco Liriano finally returned to near pre-surgery form in 2010.

  • 2006: 10.71 K/9, 2.38 BB/9, 2.55 FIP, 55.3 GB%
  • 2010: 9.44 K/9, 2.72 BB/9, 2.66 FIP, 53.6 GB%

The key to Liriano’s 2010 success was his slider, which was nearly as effective as it was in 2006:

  • 2006 slider: 23.0 runs above average (second in MLB, min. 120 IP)
  • 2010 slider: 19.0 runs above average (first in MLB)

Liriano even dominated plate discipline stats, emphasizing the nastiness of his pitching arsenal:

  • O-swing rate: 34.4 percent (fifth)
  • Contact rate: 73.4 percent (first)
  • Swinging strike rate: 12.4 percent (first)

Despite Liriano’s obvious talent, there are a few remaining concerns. 2010 was the first time the 27-year-old topped 140 big league innings in a single season (although he did accumulate 199 1/3 innings between High-A, Triple-A and Minnesota in 2008).

Further, Liriano appeared to wear down late last season, posting a 4.69 ERA in his last 10 starts. Also, as Ken Rosenthal recently noted, “rival scouts say his delivery always will trigger health concerns and perhaps prevent him from ever developing into a workhorse.”

Liriano was scratched from his first throwing session this spring due to shoulder tightness, and he admitted to not keeping up with his strengthening exercises this offseason. He made his spring debut in a B game last Friday, though Liriano himself wasn’t happy with the results.

Looking forward to the 2011 season, I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. When healthy, Liriano is one of the most dominant pitchers in the game. He is also, however, one of the greatest risks. Draft with caution.

 IPWK/9BB/9ERAWHIP
2010 stats191.2149.442.723.621.26
3-year average132.188.713.434.421.38
2011 FBI Forecast186149.202.853.351.23

 

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