It’s now official: Francisco Liriano will start Sunday’s series finale against the Royals.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire confirmed the news during his pre-game media session on Friday. He said that Liriano will likely throw somewhere between 60-80 pitches, but it will depend on how the left-hander is looking on the mound.
“More than anything else, we have to see how he’s feeling and how he’s doing physically,” Gardenhire said of Liriano.
Sunday will mark Liriano’s first start since Aug. 17, when he lasted two innings in Texas. Right after that start, he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with left arm fatigue. Liriano then moved to the bullpen when was he was activated earlier this month. In three relief appearances, Liriano posted a 4.76 ERA.
Gardenhire said that the coaching staff wanted to give Liriano, who is 5-12 with a 5.75 ERA this season, a chance to pitch again once he rested his tired arm. The plan was to give him a few more innings out of the ‘pen to regain his confidence and they never really intended on moving him back into the rotation. But with the club currently in a pennant race and short on starting options, the situation called for Liriano to get another opportunity, Gardenhire said.
“[Jeff] Manship was a little bit overwhelmed,” Gardenhire said. “I
don’t think Frankie will be overwhelmed at all. He’s going to let it
fly. I don’t think the game itself is going to get to him whether he throws well or not. Because he’s not going to feel the pressure…I think he gives us a better chance.”