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  1. I know some people argue that minor league innings and major league innings are different. With that being said, The Twins were careless to let him throw 200 innings combined in his first season back from TJ. It was a stupid move and I just hope it doesn’t result in another arm injury next year for Liriano.

    chuck

    Comment by chuck — December 2, 2008 @ 7:11 am

  2. Really good stuff here, I think one more thing to be positive about is the fact he was throwing harder as the season went on. I saw one of his later starts in September and he looked filthy. The change also appears to be coming along well.

    Comment by Mike Ketchen — December 2, 2008 @ 8:18 am

  3. I’m familiar with the minor league/major league equivalency argument, but I’m just not sure that we know enough one way or the other to make a definitive statement. In theory, I understand the argument that AAA innings are lower-stress innings, given the lower level of talent and presumably lower P/PA totals.

    But I would tend to agree, chuck, that the Twins erred by having Liriano accumulate such a workload, particularly when the majority of that work did not come for the big league club. Perhaps it’s hindsight bias, but if you exchange just a few Livan-Large starts for Liriano starts (maybe even just one start), the Twins win the AL Central.

    Mike,

    I think that the changeup could end up being a pretty big pitch for him. Also, it seems as though the changeup (when thrown properly, of course) is considered a “safer” pitch, one that puts less stress on the arm:

    http://ajs.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/34/3/423

    Comment by David Golebiewski — December 2, 2008 @ 8:46 am

  4. What about the missing ground balls? Any idea what may have caused the dropoff there and if there’s a chance they could return? That could make a big difference in his future value, in real and fantasy baseball.

    Comment by Mike Podhorzer — December 2, 2008 @ 9:18 am

  5. Mike,

    That’s a very interesting question, and one that I’m not sure we’ll know the answer to for a little while longer. I have a theory (and admittedly, that’s all that it is) that Liriano’s decreased velocity played a role. With both his heater and slider coming in about 4 MPH slower, perhaps batters were able to get better loft when they did make contact.

    The pitch selection could have played a role, too: Liriano threw an upper-80’s slider close to 38% of the time in ’06, a pitch that dips down and away from lefties or saws off righties. Relying more on a fastball with good (but not vintage) velocity and the change could have led to more flyballs.

    If the flyball tendencies stick, Liriano could give up a few more homers. Luckily, the Metrodome does quite a number on home run production- per Bill James 2009, the HR park factor was just 83 between 2006-2008.

    Comment by David Golebiewski — December 2, 2008 @ 10:01 am

  6. Do you have numbers on the average velocity of his pitches from start to start or perhaps even from month to month? It seems like a large measure of how well a pitcher has recovered from TJ is whether or not he regains his velocity and I am curious to see if Liriano showed improvements as the season went on.

    Comment by Mike — January 26, 2009 @ 4:56 pm

  7. Mike,

    We certainly do. Here are Liriano’s Fastball/Slider/Change averages month-by-month (I included usage in parentheses):

    April: Fastball 90.4 MPH (55.8), Slider 79.8 MPH (27.2), Changeup 80.5 MPH (17)
    August: FB 90.7 (54.8), SL 83.9 (26.1), CH 82.0 (19.1)
    Sept.: FB 91.2 (51.1), SL 84.9 (26.4), CH 82.6 (22.4)

    As time went on, Liriano gained some fastball velocity and his slider returned to its former “hard” variety.

    To look for a pitcher’s pitch velocity, usage or pretty much any other stat under the sun on a month-by-month basis, just:

    – click on “Teams” near the top of the home page
    – go to pitchers
    -go to “pitch type”
    – go to individual teams and select the desired club
    – sort by month

    Comment by David Golebiewski — January 26, 2009 @ 5:27 pm

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