Mar 30, 2010, 3:46 PM EDT
As expected the Twins announced this afternoon that Francisco Liriano will be their fifth starter, with his first outing coming April 9 against the White Sox.
Liriano’s name was tossed into the closer mix with Joe Nathan out for the season, but he never seemed interested in a switch to the bullpen and Ron Gardenhire made it clear that he also preferred to give the 26-year-old southpaw another chance in the rotation.
Liriano was a mess last season after initially showing some promise in his 2008 return from Tommy John surgery, going 5-13 with a 5.80 ERA, but he dominated the Dominican Winter League this offseason and continued to thrive this spring while battling Brian Duensing and Glen Perkins for the fifth-starter gig.
Making his final start this afternoon Liriano tossed six shutout innings with eight strikeouts compared to three hits and three walks, slicing his overall spring ERA to 2.70 with a 30/5 K/BB ratio in 20 innings. Reviews of his raw stuff has been equally positive, so while he may never be the unhittable phenom who burst onto the scene in 2006, as elbow surgery fades further and further into his rear-view mirror it looks like Liriano may once again be an impact pitcher.
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