RandBall: Shocking! Sox pitching coach isn't getting through to Liriano
- Blog Post by: Michael Rand
- September 4, 2012 - 3:07 PM
Arguably the best part of the Twins trading Francisco Liriano to the White Sox came in the aftermath, when Sox GM Kenny Williams reportedly dropped these nuggets during a conference call:
KW: White Sox saw some things in his last start that they can fix and bring some better results immediately.
KW: Don Cooper thinks he has some wisdom to impart to Liriano.
The bit about Cooper, the Chicago pitching coach (pictured), became a local favorite -- and it is even more delightful now that we have some fresh quotes about Liriano from Cooper, who is clearly dealing with the same things Rick Anderson was dealing with for a million years here. Per the Chicago Tribune:
"He's trying for corners," Cooper said. "He's picking. He's thinking more physical, and there's some matador in him. There's some, 'I don't want you to hit it.' We've got to get him to grasp the first part of the plan — which is get strike one, get to 0-2, 1-2. Make them hit the first, second or third (pitch). Our point of emphasis has to be the first three pitches to get to that position. And that's what he's not getting to enough. And he's putting himself in a lot of danger."
Opponents are batting .181 when Liriano is ahead in the count, but the average jumps to .281 when the count is even and .278 when Liriano falls behind. Liriano has limited batters to a .199 batting average on 0-1 counts, .110 on 0-2 counts and .145 on 1-2 counts.
"We talked nothing mechanically," Cooper said of Liriano's bullpen session. "It's all about three-pitch sequences. And his sidelines have been great. But the difference is (in) the electricity of the game, the big moments of the game, he's thinking (throw) harder. That's not the answer."
If Cooper's chief points of wisdom were to get Liriano to throw more strikes and improve mentally, the Twins would have signed themselves a 20-game winner to a contract extension years ago. Instead, they dealt the same-old, same-old to Chicago, and he's giving Cooper more of the same. He walked seven batters in his last outing and overall is 2-1 with a 4.54 ERA, averaging just a shade over 5 innings per start in seven Chicago outings. That's not terrible for a late-season pickup, but we're not exactly sure it qualifies for "better results immediately" when Liriano had a 3.68 ERA for the Twins in his 11 starts after returning to the rotation.
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