It's officially over for Francisco Liriano. Two years after throwing his last pitch in the big leagues, the former Minnesota Twins left-hander has announced his retirement.
Liriano pitched for the Twins in seven of his 14 MLB seasons, rocketing onto the scene as one of the most electrifying players in baseball in 2006 and later overcoming an arm injury to become a steady arm, as a starter and reliever, for the Pirates, Blue Jays, Astros and Tigers.
Liriano's rise corresponded with the Twins' surge during the memorable 2006 season that saw Minnesota start 25-33 before rattling off 42 wins in their next 55 games en route to winning the American League Central with a final record of 96-66.
Liriano, who was 22 years old at the time, was lights out for the Twins all season before struggling in an August start with arm discomfort. But prior to that start, Liriano was rolling with a 1.96 ERA while striking out 137 batters in 115 innings.
He actually began the 2006 season in the bullpen and then was basically untouchable from his first career start May 19 until July 28, which was followed by an arm injury that sidelined him for a month and was followed by his much-anticipated September return that saw him suffer a season-ending injury.
But before the injuries, he was as menacing on the mound as they got and he gave the Twins the best 1-2 punch in baseball with Cy Young winner Johan Santana. Look at this insane game log Liriano put together when he was healthy as a starter.
- May 19: 5 innings, 2 hits, 1 run, 5 strikeouts
- May 26: 5 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs, 6 strikeouts
- May 31: 6 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, 4 strikeouts
- June 6: 6 innings, 7 hits, 3 runs, 3 strikeouts
- June 11: 7 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, 6 strikeouts
- June 16: 7 innings, 5 hits, 2 runs, 11 strikeouts
- June 22: 8 innings, 4 hits, 2 runs, 7 strikeouts
- June 27: 7 innings, 5 hits, 2 runs, 8 strikeouts
- July 2: 8 innings, 3 hits, 0 runs, 12 strikeouts
- July 8: 7 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs, 8 strikeouts
- July 13: 5 innings, 5 hits, 4 runs, 6 strikeouts
- July 18: 8.2 innings, 3 hits, 0 runs, 7 strikeouts
- July 23: 5 innings, 4 hits, 1 run, 10 strikeouts
- July 28: 8 innings, 3 hits, 2 runs, 12 strikeouts
That's an astonishing 1.65 ERA as a starter before suffering the injury. He allowed just 17 earned runs in 92.2 innings while striking out 105 batters.
Had the Twins had a healthy Liriano, who knows how far the 2006 team would've gone. Instead, they were swept in the playoffs by the Athletics.
Liriano missed the entire 2007 season and was really never the same, though he did flash brilliance every now and again, including in 2011 when he no-hit the White Sox. To this day, that's the most recent no-hitter in Twins history.