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Did Liriano's injury or the Twins changing his delivery diminish his effectiveness?

francisco liriano pitching motion tommy john surgery twins
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#1 Doug Y

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 12:51 PM

What happened to Frankie Franchise from 2006 that had a 2.16 ERA, 12 Wins, 4.1 WAR, and "Wowed" us with his 93-95 mph fastball and 88 mph slider? Did his injury or Tommy John Surgery change his motion, delivery, arm speed, mental makeup, or something else that has left him varying between effective and very hittable? Or did the Twins trying to smooth out his violent pitching motion after surgery change one of the aforementioned components of pitcher's motion. Either way, something has changed with Francisco, and I don't believe he will ever come close to 2006 again. Can Liriano "WOW" us again like 2006? Can he throw that upper 80's slider again that made even the best hitters look foolish?

#2 Boom Boom

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 01:02 PM

Devils Advocate - is it possible that the Liriano version 2006 was a fluke?

#3 CDog

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 01:23 PM

Devils Advocate - is it possible that the Liriano version 2006 was a fluke?


I'd say no. For one thing, he had a fantastic 2010 as well, especially looking at peripheral stats. For another, even in a terrible overall year like last year, you can see how good he was in starts like the no-hitter and more so the "near" perfecto. Watching how filthy he is when he's going well, seeing how bad he makes hitters look, and looking at things like contact rates and fielding-independent pitching, etc that back up those observations make it clear he CAN be that good.

Now, if by a fluke you mean that he held it together for a full season without showing the wild inconsistency that has become his calling card of sorts, then maybe. Perhaps we would have seen it had he been able to finish the year.

But he clearly CAN be that good. If only....he would be?

#4 Boom Boom

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 01:27 PM

I'd say no. For one thing, he had a fantastic 2010 as well, especially looking at peripheral stats. For another, even in a terrible overall year like last year, you can see how good he was in starts like the no-hitter and more so the "near" perfecto. Watching how filthy he is when he's going well, seeing how bad he makes hitters look, and looking at things like contact rates and fielding-independent pitching, etc that back up those observations make it clear he CAN be that good.

Now, if by a fluke you mean that he held it together for a full season without showing the wild inconsistency that has become his calling card of sorts, then maybe. Perhaps we would have seen it had he been able to finish the year.

But he clearly CAN be that good. If only....he would be?


What I mean is, is it possible that Liriano was pitching way over his head in 2006? Most MLB hitters had never seen him before. We know he put up dynamite minor league numbers, but so did Kevin Slowey, and I don't think anybody expects Slowey to become an ace. So which Liriano is the outlier, 2006 or 2011? I think it's somewhere in the middle, and Liriano was never really as good as his 2006 numbers.

#5 Riverbrian

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 01:36 PM

In 2006 Lirano possessed one of the most devestating sliders in all of baseball. That pitch alone produced the numbers that he put up. Batters would have to think about it and it made his fastball and other pitches more effective. I don't know if it's true or not but rumor is... That same devestating slider was a main reason for his arm problems. Since the surgery that slider has not been the same and until it comes back to form. He will have to find another approach to returning to 2006 status. He still has a good slider but it was really realy nasty in 2006. I also don't know personally but another rumor is that he goes through stretches where he doesn't trust his stuff. It's a head thing from time to time with Francisco. In reality, we are talking about two different pitchers. The 2006 Version was a completely different animal and if that guy was still around without injury. He'd be in the same room as Verlander and Halladay. The Twins would have their #1 and contract time would be very interesting.

#6 @_2244

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 01:48 PM

Liriano's arm pre-TJ was super-human, an other-worldly talent the likes of which is very rare. While other pitchers may come back even "better than ever" from TJ surgery, very few have gone under the knife risking the kind of ability Liriano had. That said, he had an awful lot to lose with his rebuilt ligament. It was a next to impossible task to think an arm with as much electricity as he had would be able to get back to that level ever again. But how many times have heard that Liriano gets too "amped-up" or some type of variation? As was the case on Saturday, striking out the side in the first inning was no indication of how the rest of his start would go. That's what's frustrating about watching Liriano. He seems equally as likely to strike out the side on 9 pitches as he is to having a 38 minute inning in which he gives up 5 hits, 2 BB, & 6 runs. In the same game, even. Liriano seems to be way too much of a headcase for my liking. I believe the Twins were down 2-0, runners on the corners and nobody out. Liriano fields a come-backer, and instead of getting the runner from third going home (be broke on contact), Liriano wheels and throws to 2nd base. Inexcusable to give away a run like that. That is just an example of one play, but it just seems like the guy doesn't get it. And he's been in The Bigs way too long by now not to. One of my favorite baseball coaches always used to say, "Baseball's a game of inches, boys. The six between your ears!" Wasn't it just last spring when Liriano showed up for Training Camp and it was discovered that he had not been doing his off-season "maintenance stuff" and the staff felt he showed up completely ill-prepared? This is another reason Liriano frustrates me. Guy seems like he goes about his business very unprofessionally. When his left arm was a lightning bolt he may have had enough raw ability to get by on that alone. Time to face the facts that Liriano V2006 is long gone. And it seems as though Modern-Day Liriano hasn't figured out how to get by with less than his best stuff.

#7 Thrylos

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 01:50 PM

I think that data helps always. Look here first:

Look at 2005 and 2006 vs the rest (not 2012 which is just few innings). The major differences are in the %contact (Frankie v1 missed more bats than Frankie v2) and Swinging Strike %. Frankie V1 had more swinging strikes than Frankie v2.

Second piece of data here:

Frankie V1 averaged a 94-95 mph FB and an 87-88 mph slider. Frankie v2 does not have that velocity. Will he regain it? We will see.

But I think that there is enough data to show why Frankie was successful in 2005/6 and why less succesful later
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#8 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 02:05 PM

Liriano's arm pre-TJ was super-human, an other-worldly talent the likes of which is very rare. While other pitchers may come back even "better than ever" from TJ surgery, very few have gone under the knife risking the kind of ability Liriano had. That said, he had an awful lot to lose with his rebuilt ligament. It was a next to impossible task to think an arm with as much electricity as he had would be able to get back to that level ever again.

But how many times have heard that Liriano gets too "amped-up" or some type of variation? As was the case on Saturday, striking out the side in the first inning was no indication of how the rest of his start would go. That's what's frustrating about watching Liriano. He seems equally as likely to strike out the side on 9 pitches as he is to having a 38 minute inning in which he gives up 5 hits, 2 BB, & 6 runs. In the same game, even.

Liriano seems to be way too much of a headcase for my liking. I believe the Twins were down 2-0, runners on the corners and nobody out. Liriano fields a come-backer, and instead of getting the runner from third going home (be broke on contact), Liriano wheels and throws to 2nd base. Inexcusable to give away a run like that. That is just an example of one play, but it just seems like the guy doesn't get it. And he's been in The Bigs way too long by now not to. One of my favorite baseball coaches always used to say, "Baseball's a game of inches, boys. The six between your ears!"

Wasn't it just last spring when Liriano showed up for Training Camp and it was discovered that he had not been doing his off-season "maintenance stuff" and the staff felt he showed up completely ill-prepared? This is another reason Liriano frustrates me. Guy seems like he goes about his business very unprofessionally. When his left arm was a lightning bolt he may have had enough raw ability to get by on that alone. Time to face the facts that Liriano V2006 is long gone. And it seems as though Modern-Day Liriano hasn't figured out how to get by with less than his best stuff.


I would always trade a run for a double play, even in a tight game. I don't think that move was inexecusable at all.

#9 @_2244

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 02:20 PM

"I would always trade a run for a double play, even in a tight game. I don't think that move was inexecusable at all." To clarify, you'd rather be down 3-0 with 2 outs & nobody on than to be down 2-0 with runners at first & second & 1 out?

#10 Doug Y

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 02:41 PM

One run can be the difference between winning and losing. I take the sure out at home in that situation.

#11 Steve Lein

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 02:54 PM

What happened to Frankie Franchise from 2006 that had a 2.16 ERA, 12 Wins, 4.1 WAR, and "Wowed" us with his 93-95 mph fastball and 88 mph slider?


It wasn't just 93-95 MPH fastballs and 88 MPH sliders in 2006, it was at times 95-98 MPH fastballs with movement and 90+ MPH absolutely unhittable sliders. That season was one of the sickest pure "stuff" pitching performances you'll ever see. Johan Santana won the Cy Young that year, but Frankie would have beat him for it easily if he hadn't got injured.

Maybe that's part of the problem, he wants to be that guy again, but it's more likely it's just not there anymore after the surgery, so he needs to adjust, which I think he did in 2010. If he'd just be that version for now and in the future, that would still be pretty darn good.

Scouting Report: Power: 30, Hitting: 50, Arm: 60, Defense: 40, Speed: 40. "Line drive swing and shows good contact and on-base abilities. Double's power at his peak. Strong arm from 2B or the OF, stiff hands. Not a fast runner, but above average instincts on the bases. Skinny body doesn't look the part, but can sneak up on you. ACL surgery sapped much of his athleticism." (Probably)


#12 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 07:14 AM

"I would always trade a run for a double play, even in a tight game. I don't think that move was inexecusable at all."

To clarify, you'd rather be down 3-0 with 2 outs & nobody on than to be down 2-0 with runners at first & second & 1 out?


Well let's see.. no guarantee the runner on 3rd is even going to break, and if he takes the time to check, the double play just ended, so you are likely looking at runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out or possibly the bases loaded, but I highly doubt you end up with runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out because they nailed the guy coming home.

That said, speaking strictly from an odds stand point, the odds are not in your favor tha tyou get out of that inning with 1 down and runners on 1st and 2nd. Getting the DP pretty much ends the threat. If you don't want runners scoring, don't put runners on the corners with no outs, as the odds say the other team is going to score at least one run in that scenario.

#13 @_2244

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 08:24 AM

Well let's see.. no guarantee the runner on 3rd is even going to break, and if he takes the time to check, the double play just ended, so you are likely looking at runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out or possibly the bases loaded, but I highly doubt you end up with runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out because they nailed the guy coming home.

That said, speaking strictly from an odds stand point, the odds are not in your favor tha tyou get out of that inning with 1 down and runners on 1st and 2nd. Getting the DP pretty much ends the threat. If you don't want runners scoring, don't put runners on the corners with no outs, as the odds say the other team is going to score at least one run in that scenario.


Think of it this way, purely hypothetical of course, and from a defensive standpoint: Runners on 1st & 3rd, nobody out. You can choose to move the lead runner backwards one base (to 2nd) and put an out up on the board. In a close game or if trailing, & you know you're still waiting on your bats to awaken, who in their right mind wouldn't do that? :confused: There is no downside, none, zip, zilch, zero, nada. None.

#14 spideyo

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 09:23 AM

I'm going to guess that at least part of it is a fear that he's going to get hurt again.

#15 Paul

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 10:04 AM

I would always trade a run for a double play, even in a tight game...


Think of it this way diehard, there are 27 outs in 9 innings, if you were to trade a run for every 2 outs your opponent would score 13.5 runs. That may be acceptable in slow pitch softball, which has 7 inning games with top teams routinely scoring over 20 runs, but not in 9 inning baseball. (Unless the game is already decided by a ton of runs and you just want to end it.)

#16 Paul

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 10:06 AM

I'm going to guess that at least part of it is a fear that he's going to get hurt again.


I agree. And he should be. With his old stuff and his old mechanics he was just too close to the edge. The human body can only withstand so much.

#17 whydidnt

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 10:17 AM

I wonder if this thread somehow leads back to the questions regarding the Twins medical staff. I hear repeatedly that guys coming back from TJ surgery often see their velocity increase, and most players are as good or better than prior to their surgery...Strasburg is the latest example. Liriano took way longer than "normal" to recover and his velocity dropped significantly and he's NOT the same pitcher. It seems Nathan took longer to get back to normal and his velocity was down as well. I assume there is a standard recovery plan for this surgery, does the Twins staff alter it and mess things up some how? Not saying this is the case, have no way of knowing, just looking at the circumstances and asking the question.

#18 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 10:27 AM

Think of it this way diehard, there are 27 outs in 9 innings, if you were to trade a run for every 2 outs your opponent would score 13.5 runs. That may be acceptable in slow pitch softball, which has 7 inning games with top teams routinely scoring over 20 runs, but not in 9 inning baseball. (Unless the game is already decided by a ton of runs and you just want to end it.)


That's a ridiculous way to think about it, as it's a straw man and a completely unrealistic scenario.

With runners on 1st and 3rd and 0 outs, what are the odds that the team scores a run?
With bases loaded and 0 outs, what are the odds for the batting team?
With runners on first and second with one out, what are the odds?
With a run in, and no one on with no outs, what are the odds that the team at the plate scores anymore?

Letting that run in for the double play eliminates the big inning. Would I approach it differently in a win or die playoff game? Maybe, but stopping the bleeding is more important, and being down 2-0 or 3-0 really means little as either way, the offense is going to have to step up and do its job.

#19 CDog

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 10:28 AM

I wonder if this thread somehow leads back to the questions regarding the Twins medical staff. I hear repeatedly that guys coming back from TJ surgery often see their velocity increase, and most players are as good or better than prior to their surgery...Strasburg is the latest example. Liriano took way longer than "normal" to recover and his velocity dropped significantly and he's NOT the same pitcher. It seems Nathan took longer to get back to normal and his velocity was down as well. I assume there is a standard recovery plan for this surgery, does the Twins staff alter it and mess things up some how? Not saying this is the case, have no way of knowing, just looking at the circumstances and asking the question.


Pretty sure Nathan's recovery followed along right on schedule.

#20 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 10:36 AM

Think of it this way, purely hypothetical of course, and from a defensive standpoint: Runners on 1st & 3rd, nobody out. You can choose to move the lead runner backwards one base (to 2nd) and put an out up on the board. In a close game or if trailing, & you know you're still waiting on your bats to awaken, who in their right mind wouldn't do that? :confused: There is no downside, none, zip, zilch, zero, nada. None.



I'll assume for a second that the defense executes (not always a safe assumption and much harder to assume when there's a potential collision/no force out at the plate), but regardless, your scenario doesn't work either.

For one, there's no guarantee that the runner on 3rd breaks for home, and I'd add that if he's doing his job, he won't until he knows where the throw is going. There's no force in play here, so he doesn't have to run. So in your scenario, if you throw it home or to 3rd, you are most likely going to endup with the bases loaded with no outs. So there's a huge downside.

If you look him back to the bag, you've probably killed the play at 2nd and will have to hurry to make a play at first, and you definitely killed getting both runners, and you might have killed getting even one depending on the speed of the batter. Depending on the speed of the runner at 3rd, there's STILL a risk (albeit low) he scores if you try to get the runner at first.

#21 @_2244

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 10:38 AM

I wonder if this thread somehow leads back to the questions regarding the Twins medical staff. I hear repeatedly that guys coming back from TJ surgery often see their velocity increase, and most players are as good or better than prior to their surgery...Strasburg is the latest example. Liriano took way longer than "normal" to recover and his velocity dropped significantly and he's NOT the same pitcher. It seems Nathan took longer to get back to normal and his velocity was down as well. I assume there is a standard recovery plan for this surgery, does the Twins staff alter it and mess things up some how? Not saying this is the case, have no way of knowing, just looking at the circumstances and asking the question.


I think it's kinda silly to think with any amount of certainty how any particular player is going to respond to TJS. As earlier stated, Liriano's arm was absolutely electric pre-TJS. Between velocity, movement, and that slider he had an awful lot to lose. Based on the field staff's insinuation that he did not come to camp as prepared as he should have last year, it's very possible that Liriano just isn't very dedicated to his craft. Regarding Nathan, he had a decision to make in 2010 if he should even undergo that extensive of a surgery at the age of 35. At what point is it reasonable to expect a healthy pitcher's velocity to start decreasing? When you factor in undergoing a major surgery, especially at age 35, when the body is supposed to be declining, I would expect a "longer than normal" recovery.

I'm not trying to be an apologist for the Twins' Med Staff, just saying that I don't see how they have any culpability in these two particular cases.

#22 spideyo

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 10:46 AM

I've heard that many people APPEAR to have better velocity after TJ surgery, but it's often because the deterioration of the ligament affects their pitching and they start to lose velocity before they actually become too injured to pitch. As far as being "better", that can sometimes be the result of simply changing their mechanics as a result of their injury.

#23 whydidnt

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 01:26 PM

Pretty sure Nathan's recovery followed along right on schedule.

Really, I seem to recall him pitching poorly to start 2011, and then hitting the DL with an arm injury, taking closer to 15+ months to return to form instead of the 12 we see other guys take.

#24 Doug Y

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 11:47 AM

5 runs in the 2nd inning off of Liriano so far. Is it time to turn the page on Liriano? Or still early in the year?

#25 CDog

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 12:51 PM

Really, I seem to recall him pitching poorly to start 2011, and then hitting the DL with an arm injury, taking closer to 15+ months to return to form instead of the 12 we see other guys take.


I'm not an expert on it by any means, but I have always thought I've heard pitching again in 12 months and usually taking another few to really be back. I remember being very...leery?...of Nathan being the closer at the start of last year because of my impression that it usually took more than a year. Looking at what they're projecting for Gibson as another anectdotal piece of evidence, they're talking about him getting back into game action late this year, which will be a year after surgery, but I don't think they're talking about him being truly ready or back to full strength. Strasburg is another one that seemed to follow that path. Anyone have better than "seems to" or "thoughts" on TJ-recovery?

#26 whydidnt

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 11:06 AM

Actually Strassburg pitched great last year after 12 mos. Others that did include Tim Hudson and and a great comp for Nathan, a 37 year old Billy Wagner, back after 12 mos and dominating in the NL. There are plenty of examples of guys being back at or before 12 months and performing well. There are also examples of guys taking longer or never getting back at all, but you'd hope somewhere along the lines a Twin would end up on the positive end of injury recovery, and that seems extremely rare. I personally am concerned about Gibson, just because the Twins have yet to have a guy return from TJ and be as good as he was prior. Small sample size, but when you consider how Twins injuries seem to be misdiagnosed or stretched out (see Scott Baker) more than typical, it's worthwhile to ask the question.

#27 CDog

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 12:13 PM

Actually Strassburg pitched great last year after 12 mos.


See why I hate "seems like" now!?! My memory was that when Strasburg came back he pitched very limited amount to start. It was just over a year, and they did limit him a little since it was the end of last year, but he did come back pretty strong as far as results.

I just scanned a few sites and the most common thing I saw for recovery was "12 to 18 months." At least one (webmd is the one I can recall for sure) said recovery was "about a year" but that full performance recovery could take up to two years.

The most noteworthy thing I read was that before doing the surgery on Tommy John, the pioneering doctor estimated the chance for success at...1 in 100!

#28 CDog

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 12:16 PM

but when you consider how Twins injuries seem to be misdiagnosed or stretched out (see Scott Baker) more than typical.


What I've read today on Baker's injury makes me think that he was neither misdiagnosed nor mistreated. The injury he had is typically treated successfully with rest and only in some cases after that hasn't worked is surgery necessary. And to be clear, because it's on the intergoogle highway doesn't make it so, but that's what I found out there this morning. I should stay at a Holiday Inn Express and see if I gain any better insight from that.

#29 Riverbrian

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 12:23 PM

What I've read today on Baker's injury makes me think that he was neither misdiagnosed nor mistreated. The injury he had is typically treated successfully with rest and only in some cases after that hasn't worked is surgery necessary. And to be clear, because it's on the intergoogle highway doesn't make it so, but that's what I found out there this morning. I should stay at a Holiday Inn Express and see if I gain any better insight from that.


lol... I tried the Holiday Inn Express for the purpose of clearer thinking. I locked my room keys in my room and I couldn't figure out why the remote wouldn't turn the channel but the bed seemed to be getting softer.

#30 CDog

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 12:38 PM

lol... I tried the Holiday Inn Express for the purpose of clearer thinking. I locked my room keys in my room and I couldn't figure out why the remote wouldn't turn the channel but the bed seemed to be getting softer.


For future reference, if you're in the room where you can use the remote and feel the bed...having the room keys locked inside the room isn't really much of a problem.



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