Francisco Liriano was terrible for the Twins and White Sox last season and then made headlines for all the wrong reasons this winter when his two-year deal with the Pirates had to be reworked due to an at-home injury.
That delayed Liriano’s season debut until mid-May, but he’s been one of the best pitchers in baseball since then and finished the first half on a high note last night by shutting out the A’s for seven innings. Liriano heads into the All-Star break at 9-3 with a 2.00 ERA in 12 starts, posting an 80/28 K/BB ratio and .221 opponents’ batting average in 77 innings.
He’s not quite the overpowering force of nature he was for Minnesota before undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery, but Liriano is close enough to slice through the National League while looking like one of the best free agent signings of the offseason.
The Fernando Rodney Experience hasn’t been a good one for the Twins thus far. The veteran closer served up three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to the Yankees on Thursday afternoon, erasing a 4-1 lead and blowing his third save in five opportunities.
In the ninth, Didi Gregorius reached on a throwing error by Miguel Sano. Giancarlo Stanton then singled, and Gary Sanchez followed up with a walk-off three-run home run.
Rodney, 41, now sports a 6.75 ERA on the year. He inked a one-year, $4.5 million contract with the Twins back in December. The club has an option for next year worth $4.25 million. If things keep going the way they’re going, the Twins aren’t going to want to pick up that option.
The Twins may even want to think about moving Ryan Pressly or Addison Reed into the closer’s role, even if just temporarily. Pressly has been terrific, tossing 13 scoreless innings with 18 strikeouts. Reed has a 2.25 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 12 innings.