According to Joe Christensen's blog, Fransisco Liriano had a marginal start tonight in Rochester:
Francisco Liriano needed 88 pitches to get through four innings tonight for Class AAA Rochester, and Casey Daigle has replaced him to start the fifth inning in Norfolk, Va.
Liriano gave up three runs on five hits, with three walks and three strikeouts. It remains unclear if that was enough to convince the Twins he is ready to rejoin the major league rotation.
Alexi Casilla did make two errors in the field behind Liriano, which cost him somewhat in his final line, but those results remain discouraging coming from AAA. It looks like Liriano may make another start or two in the minors before trying his hand in the major. However, Liriano WILL be called up sooner or later, and probably not too much later. The question then becomes, which Twins starter is demoted?
The obvious answer is Nick Blackburn. He was the last pitcher to make the roster. Baker and Bonser seemed to have earned full time jobs, at least for awhile longer, in the major leagues, and Kevin Slowey was the organization's best pitcher not named Santana last year
Of course, then again, Blackburn had a pretty good year in the minors last year as well, spending the bulk of his year in AAA putting up a 2.10 ERA in 110 innings, was recently ranked the Twin's number one prospect by Baseball America, and, oh yeah, has given up only 3 runs along with 12 hits and 3 walks in 12 innings while striking out 11 so far this year. Meanwhile, the aforementioned Kevin Slowey has had only one start in which he started poorly before getting hurt in the fourth inning
The other question concerns how the Twins will demote the pitcher of their choice. WIll they send Blackburn to the bullpen, sending down Brian Bass? Possible. I doubt that Slowey would be sent to the pen.
Personally, if forced to make a choice (which the Twins will be since Livan Hernandez, unfortunately, isn't going anywhere) I'd send Nick Blackburn to AAA. I'm excited by his sudden ability to strike plenty of hitters out, but I just can't put him ahead of Kevin Slowey. In reality, what the Twins do will likely have a lot more to do with what happens in the next week than what happened last year. If Slowey can get healthy, make his next start, and pitch reasonably well, I foresee him staying in the majors. If he can't do that and Blackburn has another great outing, I wouldn't be surprised to see Slowey get sent down.
If you were the Twins, how would YOU handle Liriano's call-up?