(BaseballStL) -- Every time you think his best years are behind him, Francisco Liriano rebounds to shut down his doubters.
The strange twists and turns of his career have added another chapter in 2013.
Liriano’s up-and-down and round-and-round major league career began as a September call-up in 2005, when he finished the month with a 1-2 record and 5.70 ERA in six games (four starts).
One year later, a then-22-year-old Liriano became a household name for the Minnesota Twins after becoming a starter in May en route to a 12-3 record and a 2.16 ERA. He was named to the AL All-Star team and MLB.com’s Rookie of the Year.
His rookie season could have resulted in more honors at the end of the season, but pain in his throwing arm limited the left-hander to only two starts. It would finish in the always-dreadful Tommy John surgery at season’s end. He missed the entire 2007 season.
He bounced back and forth between the minors and majors in 2008 before he finally returned to the big leagues on a full-time basis in 2009. It was a disappointing season for Liriano, who finished 5-13 with a 5.80 ERA in 29 games including 24 starts.
It appeared it could be all over for him as he entered quite possibly the most important year of his career in 2010. The 26-year-old hushed his doubters early winning three of his first four starts while posting a 0.93 ERA. He stumbled a bit before regaining the early form later that summer to post a final record of 14-10 with a 3.62 ERA, his lowest since his rookie season.
Four years after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Liriano was named Comeback Player of the Year. It appeared the promising lefty was back on the road to success.
The high from the season before wouldn’t last long as Liriano was miserable the next April when he lost four his first five starts and posted a 9.13 ERA. The only highlight of the 2011 season for Liriano came on May 3 when he threw a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox (Note: he walked six batters in the game as well). He finished the year with a 9-10 record and a 5.09 ERA.
He would be traded to the White Sox near the deadline the following season after a 3-10 record with a 5.31 ERA through July. He wasn’t any better with Chicago as he finished the season 6-12 with a 5.34 ERA.
It appeared the once-promising prospect was all but done for until the Pittsburgh Pirates signed him this past offseason. He didn’t make his first start until May 11, a victory over the New York Mets. Since then, he has won 10 of his 14 starts and posted a 2.23 ERA.
The most important start of his remarkable turnaround will come Monday in the series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals. He beat St. Louis in his only other career start against them in a 6-2 win on June 28, 2009. He allowed only two runs on four hits over seven innings pitched.
The only team to have Liriano’s number this season would be the Cincinnati Reds, who have beaten him three times already.
Here’s to hoping that the Cardinals take a page out of that book.