What's Up With Francisco Liriano?

by Steve Nitz

When draft time came around in March, Francisco Liriano was an intriguing name. The lefthander was healthy after Tommy John surgery and had a good second half in 2008, going 6-1 with a 2.74 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings.

It was hard to expect Liriano to repeat his 2006 performance (12-3, 2.16 ERA, 144 K in 121 IP), but a repeat of 2008’s second half wasn’t out of the question. Liriano was a solid sleeper canidate.

But so far Liriano has been a complete disaster. He’s currently 3-8 with a 5.88 ERA and a WHIP of 1.57. His velocity isn’t the same it once was and his slider isn’t as crisp. He’s still putting good strikeout numbers (74 in 82 2/3 IP), but those don’t exactly mean a lot when he kills your ERA and WHIP every start.

Coming off three decent outings, Liriano was bad again in his start Tuesday night at Milwaukee. He earned the win, but allowed three earned runs in five innings and gave up a seven hits and walked five in the process.

It’s gotten to the point where he needs to be dropped in mixed leagues. Could he still turn it around? Yes, of course. He’s just not worth keeping on your roster when there are better options out there. Plus, the Twins could send him to AAA any time and promote Anthony Swarzak.

Players in AL-only leagues where the pitching isn’t as deep should consider keeping him, but only start him against bad hitting teams until he turns it around. You really can’t go wrong with dropping him in this format either.

You can just add Liriano to the list of complete disappointments of 2009.