While the Twins weren’t ready to reveal their exact plans, they said after Sunday’s loss to the Rays that they’d “take a step back” with Francisco Liriano after he gave up five runs and fell to 0-3 on the season.
Liriano, who had an outstanding spring after tuning up in winter ball, is 0-3 with an 11.02 ERA after four starts. He has a 12/13 K/BB ratio in 16 1/3 innings. Liriano finished up March with a 2.33 ERA and an exceptional 33/5 K/BB ratio in 29 innings.
After two hitless innings to start the afternoon, Liriano walked two and hit a batter to begin the third. The Rays went on to score twice without the benefit of a hit. Liriano was unlucky in the fourth, as Evan Longoria was credited with a catwalk double on a ball that would have caught elsewhere. He later came around to score. Still, Liriano has mostly made his own bed this season.
If the Twins sent Liriano to the pen, it’d hopefully be a temporary measure. Anthony Swarzak could swap places with him or the team could call up Scott Diamond from Triple-A to fill the rotation spot.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.
McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).
McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.