After making a warm-weather tune-up start in Ft. Myers to start the season, Francisco Liriano moved up to Class-AAA Rochester to make his second start last night. A quote from Ron Gardenhire in yesterday's Star Tribune indicated that if all went well for Liriano in his outing with the Red Wings, he could potentially start for the Twins on Sunday, when injured Kevin Slowey's spot in the rotation comes up. "The one thing we know is Frankie is right on line for [Sunday] ... if we choose to go that way, if Slowey's not going to make it," Gardenhire said.
Well, to say "all went well" for Liriano last night would be a pretty big stretch. He labored through four innings against Norfolk, allowing three runs on five hits and three walks while recording three strikeouts. Liriano needed 88 pitches to get through four innings, just 53 of which were strikes.
My guess is that that the underwhelming outing from Liriano likely eliminates any chance that he will be starting for the Twins this weekend, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. His command continues to be an issue, which is excusable, but he'll need to start cutting down his pitch counts and throwing the ball in the zone before he starts facing major-league hitters in regular-season games.
Still, with Liriano out of the picture, the Twins will need to find someone to make a spot start on Sunday in the event that Slowey's bullpen session today does not yield positive results. That pitcher could be long reliever Brian Bass, which would be convenient because it would prevent the Twins from needing to make any roster moves. Yet, Bass has been hit hard in his two appearances this year, surrendering three home runs over 4 2/3 innings. Other possibilities would include calling up Brian Duensing, Kevin Mulvey (who pitched well in his Rochester debut on Monday) or Phil Humber (although Humber is out of options so the Twins probably won't call him up until they believe he'll be up for good). It should be interested to see how this situation shakes out if Slowey is unable to go on Sunday.