Francisco Liriano has thrived since returning from bullpen

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Francisco Liriano had a 9.45 ERA, .346 opponents’ batting average, and 21/19 K/BB ratio in 27 innings over six starts when the Twins demoted him to the bullpen in mid-May.

He didn’t pitch particularly well in a brief stint as a reliever, but since rejoining the rotation he has a 2.67 ERA, .155 opponents’ batting average, and 35/12 K/BB ratio in 30 innings over five starts.

That includes 6.2 innings of one-run ball against the Pirates last night for his fourth Quality Start in five tries after turning in zero Quality Starts before May 30.

It’s hard to imagine the Twins re-signing the impending free agent considering what a headache he’s been, in which case Liriano has another half-dozen starts to build up trade value and continue to show that his slider remains one of the best pitches in baseball.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.

Derek Norris signing with the Rays

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Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports that Derek Norris is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Norris was released by the Nationals nine days ago, made redundant by the Nats’ signing of Matt Wieters and by everyone sliding down a notch on the depth chart below him. Norris hit only .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and a .528 OPS for the Padres in 2016.

Still, there always seems to be a place for a backup catcher. For Norris that place is Tampa Bay.