It’s been a long road back from Tommy John surgery for Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano. After a tough two years following his 2007 surgery, the lefty had a very good 2010 season going 14-10 with a 3.62 ERA and 1.263 WHIP. A 115 ERA+ and .305 wOBA, while not anywhere near his 2006 breakout season numbers, may signify the southpaw is regaining his form.
Minnesota and Liriano avoided arbitration and agreed to terms on a one year, $4.3 million dollar deal. The deal makes sense for the Twins, as there is little to suggest at this point that Liriano can't build on his 2010 season. However, given the uncertainty surrounding Tommy John recoveries, the organization won’t be held down by a lengthy or expensive contract should Liriano fail to progress or stay healthy. On the flip side, should Liriano improve further this season, showing flashes of his 2006 self, he’ll be free to seek a big contract in free agency at the end of the season, a process the small market Twins will likely avoid.
Liriano made several adjustments last year that helped improve his overall numbers. One in particular was his increased plate control. In 2009, Liriano’s control wasn’t very good and as a result he was hit fairly hard up in the zone.
Liriano’s line against LHB in 2009 was .257/.323/.329. This improved to .223/.254/.283 in 2010. And more importantly, his .284/.368/.520 line against RHB in 2009 dropped to .263/.333/.382 in 2010. All told, this improvement amounted to a 64 point drop in wOBA against both left handed batters and right handed batters.
If these numbers continue moving in the same direction, and he stays healthy, Francisco Liriano may find himself the object of a bidding war come next winter.