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Friday (Francisco Liriano, momentum pitcher) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Professional baseball, Twins fans Updated: March 9, 2012 - 9:16 AM

Warning: This is not about advanced statistics at all. It's merely an observation when looking back on the short but telling career of Francisco Liriano: He is one of the most momentum-based pitchers -- good or bad -- that we can recall.

The momentum refers to both himself and the Twins. His worst years have descended into downward spirals that have reflected the Twins. His best years have built upon themselves and propelled the Twins to their best years. This shouldn't necessarily be surprising considering how talented he is -- that his fortunes would be tied to the fortunes of the Twins -- but it is rather stark to look at, particularly as we consider his role for 2012.

*2006: He makes his first start May 19, with the Twins 17-24 going in. His remarkable stretch to dominance ends up keying a turnaround to a 96-win season, but his late-season injury ends up helping to doom the Twins in the playoffs.

*2008: He is awful coming out of the chute, going 0-3 to contribute to a 10-13 start. But he comes back to go 6-1 in August and September as the Twins come just short of making the ALDS.

*2009: He's so bad that he makes just one more start after Aug. 17. The Twins sit at 56-62 after that Aug. 17 start, but without his floundering weight in the rotation they make a run down the stretch and end up winning a thrilling Game 163.

*2010: Liriano turns in his one very good, full season in the majors, winning 14 games and striking out 201 hitters. He is particularly dialed in from mid-July to mid-September, winning eight consecutive post-ASG decisions as the Twins pull away and win the division.

*2011: Liriano flounders again, never finding consistency in a lost season for the Twins.

*2012: TBA. He had a very encouraging spring start the other day, and he is pitching for a contract (which might yield better results than pitching to contact). If past history is any indicator, good Frankie will be a self-perpetuating pitching machine that means good things for the Twins. And bad Frankie will lead to a nightmarish descent for both lefty and his team.

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