Nick Nelson

The Week Ahead

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Trusting Liriano

Friday, June 08, 2012

Fantasy owners who drafted Francisco Liriano this year with hopes of a rebound have been gravely disappointed. After dominating in spring training, the perplexing southpaw was atrocious in the early going, earning himself a demotion to the bullpen by early May.

The problem, as it was last year when he went 9-10 with a 5.09 ERA, has been a lack of control. Over his first six starts Liriano issued 19 walks (against 21 strikeouts) in 26 2/3 innings. Many owners abandoned ship.

He wasn't exactly stellar during a short stint in the bullpen and his return to the rotation was based more on necessity than merit, but Liriano has been exquisite in two turns since assuming starting duties once again, allowing just one run on seven hits over 12 innings while striking out 17 and walking only three.

So, can Liriano once again be trusted? I'm not ready to go there yet. His successful outings came against Oakland and Kansas City, two of the worst offenses in baseball. After his maddeningly ineffective performances over the first two months, he'll need to keep it going against better lineups in order to regain his status as a reliable fantasy option.

In the upcoming week, he'll face the Phillies and Brewers, both at home*. Those aren't exactly powerhouse offenses, but they're a notch above the Royals and A's, so it should be a suitable challenge. I've got him listed as a "Decent Play," but considering the dearth of two-start options this week – with every team in baseball playing only six games – owners may be inclined to give him a shot.

(*UPDATE: It appears that since the Twins sent down Cole DeVries they plan to keep Liriano on regular rest and have him pitch Sunday rather than Tuesday, meaning he will NOT be a two-start pitcher this week. Nick Blackburn will pitch twice for the Twins instead and is not a recommended play. Liriano does merit consideration as a streamer for his Friday start against the Brewers. Thanks to reader Dan for the heads-up.)

Going Twice…

American League

Strong Plays

Brandon Morrow: WAS (Jackson), PHI (Kendrick)
Colby Lewis: ARI (Kennedy), HOU (Norris)
Felix Hernandez: SD (Richard), SF (Bumgarner)
Josh Beckett: @MIA (Johnson), @CHC (Maholm)

Decent Plays

Alex Cobb: NYM (Young), MIA (Johnson)
Bartolo Colon: @COL (Guthrie), SD (Richard)
Garrett Richards: @LAD (Capuano), ARI (Kennedy)
Max Scherzer: @CHC (Maholm), COL (Guthrie)
Jose Quintana: @STL (Wainwright), @LAD (Capuano)
Wei-Yin Chen: @PIT (Burnett), @ATL (Delgado)

At Your Own Risk

Ivan Nova: @ATL (Delgado), @WAS (Jackson)
Jeanmar Gomez: @CIN (Cueto), PIT (Burnett)
Nick Blackburn: PHI (Kendrick), MIL (Greinke)

National League

Strong Plays

Adam Wainwright: CWS (Quintana), KC
Madison Bumgarner: HOU (Norris), @SEA (Hernandez)
Zack Greinke: @KC, @MIN (Liriano)
Josh Johnson: BOS (Beckett), @TB (Cobb)
Chris Capuano: LAA (Richards), CWS (Quintana)
Johnny Cueto: CLE (Gomez), @NYM (Yong)

Decent Plays

Edwin Jackson: @TOR (Morrow), NYY (Nova)
Clayton Richard: @SEA (Hernandez), @OAK (Colon)
Chris Young: @TB (Cobb), CIN (Cueto)
Bud Norris: @SF (Bumgarner), @TEX (Lewis)
Randall Delgado: NYY (Nova), BAL (Chen)
Ian Kennedy: @TEX (Lewis), @LAA (Richards)

At Your Own Risk

Kyle Kendrick: @MIN (Liriano), @TOR (Morrow)
Jeremy Guthrie: OAK (Colon), @DET (Scherzer)
Paul Maholm: DET (Scherzer), BOS (Beckett)

continue story »
Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to Rotoworld's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter at nnelson9.
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