While hyping up the post-Tommy John surgery return of Marlins starter Josh Johnson today, Yahoo's Brandon Funston also points out that another Tommy John victim, Twins starter Francisco Liriano, is owned in 40% of Yahoo leagues.
This is surprising for two reasons: a) Liriano has been pitching in AAA April 24, and b) after three starts in the majors early this season, he ended up with an 0-3 record, with an 11.32 ERA, seven strikeouts, and 11 walks. Oh, by the way, his WHIP was 2.71.
So why are so many people hanging on to him? Two years ago, as a rookie, Liriano was the most impressive young pitcher to hit the AL in a long time, but as Cubs fans especially know, Tommy John surgery can make a pitcher a shadow of his old self. Do fantasy owners really expect Liriano to return to his old form?
Well, judging by his AAA numbers, maybe he can. Liriano is 8-0 in his last nine starts, striking out 68 and walking just 11 during that span. Just as impressive, Liriano has gone for seven or more innings in three of his last four starts. If his arm can handle the pressure, Liriano could be a huge waiver wire pickup once he's recalled to the majors for the 60% of fantasy players that don't own him already.
I wouldn't rush to your computers yet though: Liriano may file a grievance against the Twins for keeping him in the minors unnecessarily long. According to KFFL:
Liriano's agent, Greg Genske, claims Liriano is being kept in the minor leagues to delay his service time and eventual arbitration and free agency.
It's the same reason why the Rays kept Evan Longoria in the minors to begin the season. Still, when Liriano is called up- in the heat of a division race, mind you- he could have big impact on fantasy teams.