I really don't know what to make of Francisco Liriano anymore.
The lefty has had about as up and down a season (and a career) as any supposedly dominant pitcher that I could remember.
Ron Shandler invented a metric called PQS (Pure Quality Starts) which, with a quick glance at a pitcher's game line, can help you to determine how effective he was.
A pitcher is awarded one point each for: pitching six innings, allowing no more than an equal number of hits to innings pitched, striking out no fewer than two batters less than innings pitched, striking out twice as many batters as walked and allowing one homer or less.
A score of zero or one is considered a disaster. Two or three is a mediocre start, and a four or five is a dominant start.
Liriano start's this season: 1, 3, 3, 2, 2, 3, 3, 5, 4, 4, 5, 4, 2
This line would suggest that Liriano has been generally mediocre.
But a closer look reveals that he's been all over the map. In some starts, Francisco has avoided bats completely, racking up the strikeouts but also showing poor control to an equal number of walks.
In others, he's shown awful control but managed to avoid hits. Liriano had perhaps the wackiest no-hitter in baseball history when he managed only two strikeouts to six walks in his 1-0 victory over the White Sox on May 1st.
Lately, he's been very dominant, particularly in his June 12th outing against the Rangers when he registered a 9:0 strikeout to walk ratio and carried what was nearly his second no-hitter into the eighth inning.
One thing is for sure: Francisco's average velocity is down to about 91 MPH after hovering near 94 MPH during his two best year's (thus far) in 2006 and 2010.
His primary out-pitch is his slider, a pitch that has already forced Liriano to Tommy John surgery once (in the midst of his breakout 2006 campaign).
Although it looks like the offering may once again be eating away at his arm, it has also carried the lefty to great heights; quite the unfortunate trade-off.
The Twins can't afford to hang onto Francisco until his arm inevitably implodes once more. The Yankees appeared very interested in the offseason and would surely be willing to take a chance on him (perhaps for Jesus Montero?) with the injury problems they've already had with their staff.
If Liriano can bounce back from his last poor outing and rip off a few more quality starts, look for him to get traded before July 31st.
Minnesota will finally rid themselves of one of baseball's biggest boom or busts, and could potentially add insurance for Justin Morneau (or a future DH) along the way.