Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The New Twins Closer: Fransisco Liriano

It is the one story that has brought the Twins into the national spotlight over the past few days. Joe Nathan has a torn ligament in his throwing elbow and it seems like the outlook for a return is very bleak. There has been much speculation as to who would replace him as closer and I talked more in-depth about the options the Twins are left to choose from on Monday (All Eyes on Nathan).

In an interview with Buster Olney on ESPN last night, he said that the Twins will most likely go with Matt Guerrier. He doesn't really have the makeup of a closer but he has been the Twins most consistent relief man over the past couple seasons. According to ESPN Fantasy Sports, Jon Rauch is now listed as the Twins closer in all ESPN Fantasy Leagues.

The one dark horse in all of this could be Fransisco Liriano. When he is healthy, he is one of the most electric pitchers to watch for the Twins. His variety of pitches and the way that he throws those pitches could make him unhittable. If Liriano went out and put all of his energy into one inning a game there could be an electricity pulsating from Target Field.

For example, look at the way that the Boston Red Sox have developed their All-Star closer, Jonathon Papelbon. He came into the league focused on being a starter for the Sox. He came back from the injury and the Sox weren't sure if he would be able to make it as a starter so he was moved to the bullpen. Since he has been the closer for the Red Sox in 2006, he has 151 saves and has made the All-Star Game four times.

Liriano has been plagued by injury and not having him pitch 100+ pitches every five days would be less stress on that injury plagued arm. This could be a turning point in the career of Liriano. By him making the transition to closer, the Twins could have a young lockdown closer for the next 8 seasons.

The fans and players are custom to seeing a strong presence on the mound from a name that they know. Fransisco Liriano could fit this mold for the Twins. There are other fits for the fifth spot in the rotation. The spot at the end of the bullpen is one that the Twins, and any other playoff team, need to rely on.

2 comments:

The Scruffy Rube said...

I like this idea, it seems to satisfy Liriano's desire to be a high profile pitcher and crucial part of the team, but I also seem to remember that Francisco did a better job the first time through the lineup than the second time. I'll keep my fingers crossed

NoDak Twins Fan said...

Hopefully it will save up on his arm too.