Faced with a tough decision on struggling starter Francisco Liriano, the Minnesota Twins and manager Ron Gardenhire opted to keep the veteran lefty on the big league club on Wednesday by sending him to the bullpen. But the alternative scenario, shipping the woeful Liriano directly to Triple-A Rochester, nearly happened.
Gardenhire though, nixed the idea in the end, mentioning the competition drop-off would likely not be enough to get his pitcher back on track. "You can go down there and throw the ball over and you're going to get people chasing the ball all over the place," he said. "We need him to face major league hitting and bear down and get some major league hitters out."
Liriano is 0-5 with a 9.45 ERA this season after six starts, and looks nothing like the pitcher who won 14 games and posted a 3.62 ERA back in 2010. Even though he would have personally needed to sign off before any demotion happened due to a veteran clause in his contract, there's no denying that Liriano has been nothing short of a hot mess on the mound this year for the Twins.
It will likely take a bevy of successful low-leverage situations for Liriano to gain any confidence back from his manager, but if he can't find he strike zone soon, then a move to Triple-A might just be on the horizon after all.