Time to jump on the Liriano bandwagon

Now is the time to pick up Francisco Liriano.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - He has probably been given up for dead in a lot of leagues, tossed aside when his return to the big leagues was not imminent, but now is the time to pick up Francisco Liriano, if he is available.

If you wait until after the All-Star break when he is called up to the "big club," it will be too late and you will have to battle everyone else for the rights to the 24-year-old southpaw.

If we start from the beginning of the season with Liriano and watch his development we will see why now is the time to move.

But first some background information. Liriano was a star in the making in 2006, going 12-3 in his first full season at Minnesota with 144 strikeouts in just 121 innings His ERA was a miniscule 2.16, his WHIP was 1.00 and alongside Johan Santana was the best one-two punch in baseball. Then he hurt his elbow which required "Tommy John" surgery on November 6, 2006 and he missed all of 2007.

The Twins were excited about his return in 2008 and sent him out to the mound - probably a little too early. He struggled with his control and his confidence going 0-3 with an 11.32 ERA and a WHIP of 2.71. He was afraid to challenge the hitters and walked 13 batters in 10.1 innings.

The Twins were forced to send Liriano to Triple A Rochester on April 25th and at this point the few owners who had taken a "flyer" on the lefty probably jettisoned him from their roster. When he didn't return to the Twins within a few weeks, he was probably let go by more owners who now had more pressing injuries and holes on their roster and couldn't afford to use the roster spot for a "wing and a prayer."

Little was heard from Rochester as Liriano struggled with his first four starts going 0-2 with a 7.24 ERA. But he has put in the work and his pitch location and confidence have returned.

However, since June 30th, Liriano has gone three starts and 20 innings without yielding an earned run. He has walked just three and struck out 24.

With that, management has let it be leaked out that they expect Liriano to return sometime shortly after the All-Star break. But if you wait that long, everyone will know and you might not get him. He could give you eight or nine wins in the second half not to mention nearly 100 to your strikeout total.

Wouldn't that help out any pitching staff?

If you have held on to Liriano all this time, your patience will be rewarded soon. If he is available in your league pick him up now.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.