When the Twins put Francisco Liriano back into their rotation, he was coming off a relief outing where he gave up four runs to push his ERA up to 8.47 for the season. Expectations were low, but the club likely was hoping the enigmatic lefty could put together a nice run and boost his potential trade value.
Liriano on Monday notched his fifth quality start in six tries since rejoining the rotation, limiting the White Sox to just one run on four hits and two walks over seven innings while striking out five. The lefty boasts a 2.41 ERA and 40/14 K/BB ratio over 37 1/3 innings while holding opponents to a .160 average since regaining his spot among the starting five.
It’s worth noting that Liriano has faced some less than stellar offenses during this stretch, but when he’s pitching with confidence and throwing enough strikes as he is now, he can be a nightmare for the opposition.
''I'm more relaxed. I'm not trying to make a perfect pitch,'' Liriano said after Monday’s outing. ''I'm not worried about the runners like I was before.''
Liriano is firmly back on mixed league radars, and contending teams hoping to catch lightning in a bottle will surely be watching his starts closely over the next month.
Yesterday in this space I discussed the arrival of Trevor Bauer, but he’s not the only top prospect that will be summoned this week, as the Cubs will call up Anthony Rizzo prior to Tuesday’s game.
Rizzo earned the promotion by mashing to the tune of a .342/.405/.696 batting line at Triple-A Iowa to go along with 23 home runs and 62 RBI. We’ve seen similarly lofty numbers from him before, as he hit a blistering .331/.404/.652 with 26 bombs and 101 RBI last season at Triple-A for the Padres.
Of course, Rizzo struggled at the major league level last year after posting those lofty numbers in the minors, batting just .141/.281/.242 over 128 at-bats with the Pads. The Cubs have made some adjustments to his swing, though, which they feel will give him a better chance against major league pitching this time around. At the very least, he’s certainly worth a speculative add in all fantasy formats.
Rizzo's arrival pushes Bryan LaHair to right field, David DeJesus to center and Tony Campana to the bench, so Campana's value as a cheap speed option may be coming to a close. Campana is currently tied for the major league lead with 24 stolen bases.
Jays Lose Alvarez, Add Moyer
The Blue Jays have had a terrible time keeping their starters healthy this season, and another one went down Monday, as Henderson Alvarez left his outing with a sore right elbow.
The initial diagnosis on Alvarez looks favorable, and manager John Farrell is optimistic that the young right-hander won’t have to miss his next turn in the rotation. But, he’ll need an MRI first, and it wouldn’t be the first time that it shows something that escaped a preliminary exam.
Perhaps unrelated to Alvarez’s injury – or perhaps not – the Jays inked Jamie Moyer to a minor league deal Monday night. Moyer asked for his release from the Orioles last week after he didn’t receive a promotion despite a 1.69 ERA and 16/0 K/BB ratio in 16 innings with Triple-A Norfolk.
Toronto has said they’ve given Moyer no guarantees, and he’ll report to Triple-A Las Vegas first. But, if the Jays' starters keep dropping like flies, the 49-year-old could find himself back in the big leagues soon enough.
National League Quick Hits: Matt Kemp (hamstring) is not expected to return until after the All-Star break. He had been targeting an early July return, but the Dodgers don’t want him to come back too soon and aggravating the ailment again … Mat Latos was brilliant Monday, tossing his second career complete game while striking out a career-high 13 batters. Latos has gotten off to a rough start this season, but he’s bound to turn it around at some point, and perhaps this will be the outing that starts it … Jimmy Rollins homered Monday for the fourth straight day. He's turned things around in June, batting .327 with six longballs … Shaun Marcum still felt soreness in his right elbow while playing catch Monday. He’ll be shut down indefinitely and thus obviously won’t return later this week as originally hoped … Marco Scutaro left Monday’s game after being plunked on the helmet by a Stephen Strasburg fastball. It’s not clear at this point whether he suffered a concussion … Heath Bell imploded in a non-save situation Monday, losing a four-run lead in a loss to the Cardinals. He had been pitching well of late, but it won’t take him long to be back on the hot seat if he continues to struggle … Bud Norris (knee) will return from the disabled list Thursday against the Padres.
American League Quick Hits: An MRI on Alex Avila's left knee didn't show any structural damage. He could be back in the lineup Tuesday, though it’s possible this could be something he’ll have to deal with all season … Derek Holland (shoulder) will begin a rehab assignment Wednesday. He’s expected to need three rehab outings before returning, putting him on track to be back at the start of the second half … Josh Beckett (shoulder) threw a bullpen session Monday and could be cleared to rejoin the rotation Friday … Miguel Tejada has been released from his minor league deal with the Orioles. His career is probably over … Jared Burton nailed down his second save in has many days Monday. He’ll get more save chances than Glen Perkins while Matt Capps is out if manager Ron Gardenhire sticks to the matchups … Luke Hochevar spun a shutout Monday and has been unscored upon in two straight starts … Erasmo Ramirez punched out 10 batters over eight three-hit innings Monday. The 22-year-old is worth keeping an eye on in mixed leagues, but we wouldn’t take the plunge just yet … Daniel Bard has struggled in three straight outings at Triple-A and doesn’t appear close to joining the Red Sox bullpen.