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"Lou is not talking about mechanics when he goes out to the mound,"
~Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild

Friday, June 23, 2006

Pronouncing Francisco Liriano

So...um....yeah..as I've mentioned here, here, and here, Francisco Liriano (aka The Frisco Kid) is pretty damn good. On a national stage last night, the 22 year old stole the show from one of the greatest pitchers of all-time. What was set to be the return of Roger Clemens may now be remembered as the night Francisco Liriano had his coming out party.

Twins fans have long known about Francisco's potential to be among the top 3 pitchers in the league for the next 10 years, but considering he plays in Minnesota and has only made 11 starts in his career, Liriano has been flying under the radar for most baseball fans. But with all the hype surrounding last night's game and some prominent members of the national media in attendence, I suspect he will remain a secret no more. Just hours after the game ended, Jayson Stark wrote an article about Liriano stealing the show, saying "this was Liriano's stage, he just needed the Rocket to make sure the spotlights were shining on it."

The Frisco Kid cruised through 7 innings of scoreless ball, allowing only 2 hits and a walk in that time. Astro hitters looked dazed while standing at the plate, either watching Liriano paint the inside and outside corners or swinging and missing at a late breaking slider or a changeup that seems to stop just before reaching home plate. At one point in the 6th, I actually laughed at how ridiculous The Kid was making these professional hitters look. Then I just felt sympathy for them. Not until the 8th innings, when Jason Lane hit a two run homer did it look like they had any clue of how to hit this kid.

When it was all said and done, Liriano's line looked like this:


Last night's game actually raised his season ERA to 2.17 - 1.64 as a starter. With a few more innings under his belt, he will become the AL leader in ERA, pushing back Johan Santana to #2 in the process. As Liriano goes through the league a second time around, he'll have to pick his game up. Now that these guys have seen him once before, they won't look quite as foolish in the batter's box. But at age 22, he has much room to grow. I expect it to be no problem. The sky is truly the limit for this kid. But don't take my word for it. I've compiled a collection of quotes form baseball writers and players about Liriano.

Jayson Stark: I'll never forget talking to a scout in April who was watching the Twins, and he said, "I just saw the guy with the best stuff in baseball." I said, "You mean (Johan) Santana?" He said, "No, Liriano. His stuff is way better than Santana's."

Phil Garner: "That's as good as we've seen. Let me say that again -- that's the best we've seen so far."

Brad Ausmus: "I don't want to say yet that he's better than Randy Johnson because Randy has done so much. But his stuff is as good as any lefty I've ever seen."

Melvin Mora: "Nasty. Everything nasty. What I hear is he throws a nasty slider, a nasty changeup, a nasty fastball, a nasty everything. We just went over there to just try and hit the ball. Even that ball he threw for a walk to Brian Roberts was nasty."

I would certainly like to hear Brian Sabean's comments on Liriano. After all, he is the one who got hood-winked by Terry Ryan in a deal that sent AJ Pierzynski to the Giants for one year in return for Liriano, Joe Nathan, and Boof Bonser. Even the nickname, "The Frisco Kid", is just one more reminder of how Liriano ended up in Minnesota in the first place. All I can say, and I'm sure other Twins fans agree, is Thank you, Brian Sabean.

Oh, I almost forgot. Check out my buddy Pat's My Space profile. He happens to be a huge Astros fan that just felt the wrath of Francisco Liriano. We had a friendly little wager on the series. So when the Astros lost the series, Pat's dignity was forced to go right along with them.

Feel free to leave to leave Astro-hating and/or emasculating comments on his page or pictures - so long as they're in jest.

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