Francisco Liriano will take the ball for the Twins in the opener against the Brew Crew, as he makes his long-awaited first start of the season. The young left-hander, who ESPN guru Peter Gammons thinks has the best stuff in the Major League, had been used from the bullpen this season, and was leading all relievers in strikeouts at the time of his move into the rotation. After leading the Minor League in strikeouts in 2005, Liriano has made some Major League hitters look silly so far this season, and he will face Doug Davis on Friday.
Scott Baker, who had a terrific stint with the Twins last season after being called up from Rochester, will take the ball in game two. Baker, who has posted a 1-4 record this season, is having trouble spotting his pitches this season, which he will need to do if he is going to survive a tough Milwaukee lineup. The 24-year old has the right makeup to be a big-time starter for the Twins, and the Brewers could be his chance to lower his 5.14 earned run average.
Sunday is going to be a big day for the Twins organization, as they trot out Boof Bonser for his first Major League start. Bonser had been tearing up the International League as a member of the Rochester Red Wings this season, and the Twins are hoping he can continue to throw strikes at the Major League level. He won 11 games for the Red Wings in 2006, and many believe this is the perfect time for him to try his hand at the big league level.
Besides Santana, the starting pitching for the Twins has been beyond bad this season, and Carlos Silva and Kyle Lohse have been dropped from the rotation. While Silva has been moved to the bullpen, Lohse has been demoted to Triple-A, although he had yet to report as Thursday night. This should be a youthful shot in the arm for the Twins, who have no where to go but up.
This weekend, Twins fans will get to see the whole spectrum. Liriano and Bonser are both power pitchers, and Baker is the kind of guy who uses all his stuff to get batters out. While Liriano is the biggest prospect in the Twins organization, Bonser has been grabbing the spotlight at the Minor League level all season long, and many people were pleading for him to get his shot at the Major League level.
If anything, this weekend should provide Twins' fans with a lot to talk about. Everyone within the organization that I have talked to is rooting for Bonser, although they are sorry that Lohse could not be more of a contributor. Liriano is going to be a stud, and Baker has proven his worth at the Major League level. Now all that is needed is for Bonser to make the third leg of the tripod.