Recently, the Twins have moved Fransisco Liriano to the bullpen. Since then, he’s made two relief appearances and hasn’t allowed a run.
On Monday, he pitched two innings of relief against the Cleveland Indians. He retired the tribe in order in the seventh. In the eighth, he walked the bases loaded before working out of the jam.
Earlier this afternoon, he pitched 2/3 of an inning against the Detroit Tigers facing one batter, retiring the Tigers by means of a double play.
From following Liriano this season, one thing has become obvious to me. Liriano pitches fine for one inning. The next inning, he works himself into a jam and can’t think straight on the mound. Even last year, especially later in the season, Liriano was displaying this inconsistency from one inning to the next.
Although this is only a small sample size, but from Liriano’s recent relief appearances, it makes it a good idea to keep him in the bullpen. And the fact he was able to work out of pressure situations today and on Monday makes it seem like the logical thing to do.
There are pitchers that have struggled in the past as starters and when they moved to the bullpen, they found success.
LaTroy Hawkins is one such example of a Twins pitcher that found success when he moved to the bullpen. In his first five seasons with the Twins, he never had an ERA under 5. In 2000, he appeared in 66 games, saving 14 and finished with an ERA of 3.39 with 14 saves.
Since then, he’s had only two seasons where his ERA was over 5 (2001 and 2010). In his first five seasons, Hawkins pitched to an ERA of 6.92. From 2000-2012 he has an ERA of 3.51.
For me, it makes sense to convert Liriano to a full time reliever. However, the Twins may not want to since they have a salary of $7 million invested in him. Plus, if he returns to the rotation and does close to as well he did in 2006, the Twins could get more in a trade around the trading deadline.
However, because of the fact he’s struggled in the past two seasons, I think it would be the best thing the Twins could do. Who knows, Liriano could be a closer in a year or two. And if he’s a successful closer, he could make just as much money as he does now, maybe even more. The fact he’s been inconsistent as a starter in the past two seasons suggests that this is a good move for Liriano to become a full time reliever.