Monday, January 28, 2008

Don't forget about Liriano

You remember Francisco Liriano, right? If you played fantasy baseball in 2006, how could you not?

Liriano was a rookie phenom for the Minnesota Twins that year, going 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA. But an elbow injury and Tommy John surgery sidelined him all of last season, robbing fantasy owners of one of the best young lefties the game has produced in a decade.

Now, here's the good news: Liriano is back, and tells he feels fine and will be ready to go in 2008. He's more than a year removed from his surgery, typically the benchmark for recovery, and the Tommy John recovery rate is now said to be around 90 percent or so.

Will he have the same dominating repertoire of pitches? Will his fastball still reach 97 mph? Will he be ready for a spot in the Twins' major league rotation on Opening Day (Lord knows they need him, especially if Johan Santana does get traded) or will he begin the year in Triple-A? We'll be watching Liriano closely in spring training, and you should do the same. A healthy Liriano should probably be among the top 25 pitchers drafted this year and has the potential to be a fantasy top 10.

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