It turns out that Francisco Liriano’s stint as a reliever won’t even last three weeks.
On the heels of Anthony Swarzak being knocked around for six runs over just 3 1/3 innings last night against the Tigers, the Twins will move Liriano back into the starting rotation Wednesday against the Athletics.
Liriano was removed from the rotation earlier this month after beginning the season 0-5 with a 9.45 ERA and 21/19 K/BB ratio over six starts. He wasn’t much better out of the bullpen, posting a 4.91 ERA and 9/7 K/BB ratio over 7 1/3 innings, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com that he hopes the southpaw can add some stability to a rotation which has experienced quite a bit of turnover recently.
“We liked the way he was handling himself out there, and he needs to get back out there,” Gardenhire said. “We need him in our rotation. We can’t just keep bouncing around from guy to guy.”
Liriano has a 5.77 ERA over 168 1/3 innings dating back to the start of the 2011 season, so there’s not much optimism for a return to form, but he could draw some trade interest if he enjoys some success. The 28-year-old is due to hit free agency following the season.
Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.
Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.
The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.
Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.
Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.
There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.
Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.