You can't really argue with results, and Francisco Liriano's fantasy line was very good on Sunday:
6.0 IP, 1 W, 5 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
There's no complaining about an effort like that. Statistically, it wasn't too different from Liriano's recent performances at Triple-A Rochester. (Arguably, the middle of Cleveland's lineup isn't too different from what you'd encounter in the International League). Liriano was extremely useful in fantasy terms, and the win actually put the Twins in first place in the AL Central. Those six shutout innings also took four runs off his season ERA.
All things considered, it was a successful re-debut.
But Liriano only threw 56 of his 96 pitches for strikes. His fastball reached 93, but only in the third inning when he was in trouble and needed every last tick. By the sixth inning, he was throwing 88-90 mph. That was definitely not the same Francisco Liriano who had 144 Ks in 121 innings in 2006. Back then, his average fastball was 94.7 mph, and his slider was 87.1. He's also up to 139.2 total innings, and you have to wonder how high the Twins will allow that number to go.
Looking ahead to his upcoming starts, Liriano should get the Royals, Mariners and A's, three relatively unintimidating lineups. Minnesota's September schedule is favorable, too. For that reason, I'm finding it difficult to shop Liriano too agressively today.
Yet under normal circumstances, I'd be eager to take advantage of headlines like "Liriano sharp, Twins move into 1st" and "Liriano could be difference in AL Central." That's excellent trade propaganda right there.
So...is anyone selling high on Liriano today?
Anyone buying? Feel free to negotiate trades in comments, VanSpleef.