x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Francico Liriano's true form attracts trade talk with Twins

The lefty's return to form has drawn interest from team's needing pitching help down the stretch.

Francisco Liriano has been sparkling in his past 10 starts for the Minnesota Twins but has few wins to show for his effort.
Francisco Liriano has been sparkling in his past 10 starts for the Minnesota Twins but has few wins to show for his effort.

MINNEAPOLIS // Francisco Liriano has 25 strikeouts over his last two starts for the Minnesota Twins, the most of any such stretch in his career.

He also has two losses.

Liriano, a popular subject of trade rumours as Major League Baseball approaches its trading deadline, gave up a two-run homer to Baltimore's Adam Jones in the first inning. Although he blanked the Orioles the rest of the way, he still came out on the short end of a 2-1 loss on Wednesday night.

"Going out there and having a good outing every time I go out there, it's a good feeling," Liriano said.

The Twins are known to be considering trade offers for the hard-throwing left-hander. Minnesota are out of play-off contention, and other teams are looking for pitching help.

This was the third time in his career that Liriano posted back-to-back double-digit strikeout totals. His ERA in 10 starts since returning from the bullpen is 2.84, and he has 77 strikeouts in that span, although he has only three wins to show for it.

"Frankie has that ability. Early on [this season], it wasn't Frankie. Now it's the true Frankie," said Scott Ullger, the Minnesota bench coach.

With the trade deadline looming at the end of the month, Liriano's contract expiring after the season and another handful of scouts from around the majors leagues in attendance, the left-hander did not disappoint.

"He's a smart kid. He knows what's going on," Ullger said.

Liriano walked three but allowed only four hits. The possibility of being traded, he said, has not bothered him.

"Trying not to listen to it, you know?" Liriano said. "No matter if I worry about it, if I don't worry about it, it's not going to change anything. So just happy to be here, and whatever happens, happens. I don't know what's going to happen."

The Twins have not approached Liriano about a contract extension, a sign that they probably intend to trade him. The Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves have all expressed an interest.

The Twins had several chances to hand him a victory against the Orioles, but came up short.

"Hopefully the rest of the year we give him some run support," the right fielder Ben Revere said. "He's going to take us home, so we're going to start cooking up something. We know when he's on the mound he's going to give us a chance to win."


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