He blew into the major leagues in 2006. A pitcher putting up numbers that made him looks more like his rotation mate Johan Santana than a young rookie fresh into the majors. Just look these numbers:
Innings Pitched 121.0
Then Francisco Liriano started to break down. He made one start in August, and then one more in September and was done. He would need Jommy John surgery on his left throwing arm, and miss all of the 2007 season rehabbing.
Recently Liriano comeback stories have been popping up, like this one today in the St.Paul Pioneer Press. In the story Liriano says that his endurance, and pitch selection are all fine and back to what they were before surgery. He says he is throwing all of his pitches well, and pain free. Another revelation is Liriano saying, that with in the last 2 weeks he has gotten some good velocity back on his fastball, and it throwing 94,95mph. He also claims that all of his pitches have the dominant movement back that helped made him so solid.
WOW! LIRIANO IS BACK 100% GO GET HIM! I'll hold off on this reaction for a bit. I do think that Liriano is recovered and took well over a season to rehab and get healthy. I hate it when players rush back from Tommy John surgery, and they are good, and then bad, and up and down and miss a start. A few things Liriano has going against him, is that he could enter the season as the Minnesota ace. The Johan Santana trade rumors look to be nearing an end and Liriano could be looked upon to fill his spot in the rotation. That is a tall order for anyone, let alone a young pitcher, coming back from massive surgery. I also think Liriano will miss the occasional start, with fatigue, but he does have a few things going for him. The first is that he is young, at 24 he still has a lot of life in that arm. Another is that his stuff is so good, he can win with less than his best stuff.
Personally I would take him in the middle rounds around like Joe Blanton and Brad Penny. I would pencil him in for about 13 wins, and 180 strikeouts, even if he does miss a few starts.
I recently posted a blog about Rich Harden and how he s being viewed in his comeback from a variety of injuries. I really like Liriano coming back from his injury more than I do Harden, because Liriano had one thing wrong and it was fixed. Now it is a matter of him making sure he is all the way back and can withstand the rigors of a full season. With Harden it seems like there is always something going wrong, and its not just one thing. He breaks down all over his body and you never know what will go wrong with him next.
Both are young flamethrowers with dynamite stuff, but Liriano is a much better calculated risk.