Wednesday, April 18, 2012

On Liriano, Pavano and Baker

Francisco Liriano has an ERA above 11
after three starts.
Francisco Liriano was impressive during spring training. But his first three starts of the regular season have been nothing short of disastrous.

On Tuesday night in New York, he threw 76 pitches — 37 strikes, 39 balls —in the process of getting just seven outs.

Aaron Gleeman notes the decline in Liriano's velocity over the years,  but 91 mph is still plenty — if you know what to do with it. Liriano clearly does not.

The contrast between Carl Pavano on Monday and Liriano on Tuesday is rather stark. Pavano gave up two home runs in his first four pitches on Monday, and the Yankees tacked another run on in the first inning. He then found something that worked and shut the Yankees out for six innings before turning things over to the bullpen.

Pavano pitched. He survived rather than dominate. Liriano, if he doesn't dominate, is helpless.

I said in the Monday print column that pitching coach Rick Anderson, in trying to teach Liriano the techniques of pitching (as opposed to throwing) in 2006, was giving the wrong reasons at the wrong time. He was selling the idea on the basis that it would make Liriano even better, and that simply wasn't possible.

Maybe, had Anderson sold it to Liriano (and the public) as survival skills against the inevitable decline in his raw talent, it would have taken root.

Or maybe not. The voice of experience is often ignored by impatient youth.

At any rate, Liriano appears to be at a career crossroads. If he remains a thrower, he won't last much longer. And he's given little reason to believe he can change.

Scott Baker is looking
at at least a year's
rehab before he can
pitch again.

Scott Baker's tendon surgery morphed Tuesday into full-blown ligament transplant surgery, something that was publicly unforeseen but had been anticipated by the surgeon as a possibility.

This is hardly unprecedented — there have been other cases in which a lower-level operation is planned, with the surgeon only discovering after opening the elbow that the ligament is more damaged than could be discerned from the MRIs.

Still, this sequence of events will doubtless bring a fresh wave of skepticism from outside the organization (and maybe even inside it) about the Twins medical staff, which didn't see a need for any surgery. I'm hardly competent to critique the work of orthopedic surgeons, but the Twins' recent history contains a series of undertreatments and apparent failed diagnoses.

No comments:

Post a Comment