Liriano has everything you look for in a starting pitcher. He is poised beyond his age, he has an electric fastball that seems to explode out of his hand, and his slider may be the most devastating breaking ball in baseball. However, after he heard that pop during Wednesday's game, Liriano is now just a question mark.
It is hard to imagine this 22-year old not coming back just as strong from this injury. He is a workhorse, who spent hours working on rebuilding his shoulder when he was injured the first time. Although "Tommy John" is a phrase a pitcher never wants to hear, most pitchers come back stronger than ever from the surgery, though it usually takes almost a year and a half to get back to strength.
Shoulder aside, the injury to the young fireballer means that other pitchers are going to have to step up and come into their own down the stretch. Boof Bonser has looked great lately, and he'll be able to prove his worth on Thursday, when the Twins open up their series against the Cleveland Indians. Matt Garza was impressive in relieving Liriano on Wednesday, but it is tough to rely on a pitcher who began the season in Fort Myers of the Florida State League.
There are a few options out there. If he can ever find his sinker, Carlos Silva could be a key component for the Twins, though he has looked like the worst starter in baseball lately. Matt Guerrier got his chance at a start, though he looked overmatched in that game. As of press date, it looks like Twins will go with Johan Santana, Silva, Scott Baker, Bonser, and Garza. Not a bad rotation, but nothing like what could have been.
The most important thing right now is for the Twins to take their time with Liriano. The 2006 season is a lost cause for the lefty, so they must now focus their attention on next season, and hopefully Liriano will not let the injury dampen his confidence. As for the Twins, they must continue on, as they still have the right pieces to make a serious run through the playoffs.