|Francisco Liriano gets the hook Tuesday against Cleveland.|
Losing Tuesday's game dropped the White Sox into a tie with the Tigers for first place. A bit more than a week ago, Chicago had seemingly left the Tigers for dead; now it's all even.
Liriano's ERA for the Sox is 5.39, and he's had just four quality starts in 11 starts -- with two of those good outing coming against the Twins. Liriano's White Sox ERA is now worse than his ERA with the Twins this year.
I don't think this was what the White Sox were looking for when they traded for him in July. I don't think this is what Liriano and his agent were hoping for in his free agent walk year.
And yet, as I looked Monday at this list of pitchers heading into free agency ... well, it's lacking in good bets.
I'm using Scott Diamond as my yardstick here. Who on this list figures to be better than Diamond over the course of the contract? I'm thinking, of course, in terms of the Twins. If they can come up with two starters who are better than Diamond — who has his flaws — they're contenders. If Diamond's their best starter, they aren't.
Free agents, by definition, are veterans with some miles on their treads. Zach Greinke is easily the best of this lot; everybody else comes with issues.
Liriano is comparatively young; he's talented; he doesn't figure to break the bank. He left on good terms. And he's looked very good in his two starts against the Twins, which feeds into their Craig Monroe Syndrome (a tendency to misjudge players who do better against the Twins than against the rest of the league).
When the Twins traded him, I couldn't imagine that they would have any interest in bringing him back this winter. Now I can imagine it.