Francisco Liriano had struggled with his command through his first two starts for the Twins this season, issuing 10 walks and throwing just 55 percent of his pitches for strikes.
Yesterday, he made his third big-league start of the season in Oakland against the notoriously patient Athletics, and the results were bound to be ugly if he didn't make significant strides with his control. Unfortunately, Liriano did not make those strides, and walked three of the first batters he faced on his way to allowing five runs before being pulled for Brian Bass with two outs in the first inning (Bass let in a sixth run which was also charged to Liriano).
Through three starts, Liriano now possesses an 11.82 ERA, a .366 BAA and a 2.71 WHIP. At this point it seems clear that he is nowhere near major-league ready, and there's little doubt that he'll be headed back to the minors before he makes another start for the Twins. Fortunately, the Twins have several off-days scheduled over the next few couple weeks and might be able to get by until Kevin Slowey returns without calling up another starter.
Let's keep perspective here: Liriano hadn't pitched competitively for a year and half prior to this spring, and he's basically relearning how to throw with a new ligament in his elbow. Nonetheless, it's really difficult not to be terribly discouraged as a fan by the way he pitched during his stint with the Twins. His pitches were unimpressive and he lacked any semblance of command or confidence on the mound. I guess that's what we should fairly expect from a guy coming off Tommy John surgery, but still it is sad to see Liriano such a mere shadow of his former self. It's early and there's plenty of reason to believe he can work and improve back in Rochester, but at this point I have a rather difficult time seeing Liriano as a major factor for the Twins at any point this season. He's just got too far to go.