Thursday, June 7, 2012
Liriano seems to be changing his release point
His relief appearances were not outstanding as he walked too many batters but he managed to escape many of the outings without allowing a run. These little steps helped him to improve his low confidence and it helped the team to be able to trust him when they were ready to let him return to the rotation. Some other situations forced the team to return him to the rotation last week and so far the results have been very positive.
In two starts since being back in the rotation, Liriano has pitched six innings in each outing and given up one earned run total. His 17 strikeouts compared to three walks is a far cry from where he was in the early part of the year. Opponents OPS has dropped to .437 and Liriano has dropped his ERA to 0.75 over the two games. Most fans are going to look at the two opponents, the Oakland A's and the Kansas City Royals, and say they are not prolific offenses. From the Twins point of view, any positive starts from Liriano are steps in the right direction as the team needs him to be a consistent starter to help the team to victories.
So what changed for Liriano since the last time he was in the rotation? Some of his improvement can be chalked up to the poor teams the Twins were playing. But overall, there must be another reason for this new and improved version of Liriano.
One of the changes that stands out from some of the different PitchFX data is the fact that Liriano seems to have changed the release point on some of his pitches. In the past, he has been known to change his position on the rubber because of the handedness of the batter. This can obviously impact his release point; but over the course of the game, his release point graphic should still end up looking somewhat similar.
Take a look at the images below from Brooks Baseball of Liriano's release point in the two starts he made before his trip to the bullpen. Coincidentally, both starts came against the Angels at the beginning of May.
Since returning to the bump, Liriano's results on the field have been much better but take a look at his release point and how it compares to the pictures above.
The next two starts for Liriano are scheduled to come at Target Field against the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers. These teams have each faced their fair share of offensive struggles so far in 2012. If Liriano is going to continue his recently found success, it will help to play teams that are not prolific offenses. It will be key for him to continue to find the zone with his fastball so he can keep hitters off balance with different pitches and his multiple release points.