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.

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.