Set to the chorus...
After Liriano's latest stinker in Tampa Bay, the title of this post is on the mind of all Twins fans. Will Frankie ever even be a serviceable major league pitcher again?
Right now, I think most of us our probably in agreement that THIS Liriano...
...is long gone. He'll never be a top-of-the-rotation kind of guy. Heck, I believe (though I admittedly know nothing about the medical nature of this forthcoming statement) that Frankie's dominant 2006 performance was probably the cause of his Tommy John surgery, what with that violent deliver and proliferation of sliders being thrown.
However, is it too much to ask to get the 2010 Frankie on a semi-reliable basis? To me, there are two issues that may be plaguing Liriano the most. I just don't know which one is the most prevalent.
Theory #1: He's a Knoblauch-esque basket case. He can throw the ball just fine in the bullpen or in Spring Training/Winter Ball, but come "showtime" he tightens up and is unable to command his fastball.
Theory #2: He just doesn't have enough control in the first place. I've never really viewed Frankie as a "control pitcher" in any sense of the word (i.e., Brad Radke he is not when it comes to locating his pitches), so perhaps batters have just figured out that patience is the best strategy. As long as the opposition never falls behind in the count, they don't have anything to worry about.
I truly hope that Francisco can break out of his funk this season, but the realist in me says that, at this point, he may be a lost cause.