TORONTO -- Pretty much every player in baseball insists they aren't worried about the upcoming non-waiver Trade Deadline, but it's actually believable when it comes from Francisco Liriano. He has been there, done that.Liriano has been dealt at the Trade Deadline twice before in his career, and there's a chance
TORONTO -- Pretty much every player in baseball insists they aren't worried about the upcoming non-waiver Trade Deadline, but it's actually believable when it comes from Francisco Liriano. He has been there, done that.
Liriano has been dealt at the Trade Deadline twice before in his career, and there's a chance a third trade might not be too far away. The speculation has been there, but it didn't seem to bother him Monday night as Liriano tossed five strong innings in a 4-2 victory over the A's.
Toronto has all but officially turned the page on this season, and instead, it will look to retool for 2018. That doesn't mean the Blue Jays will become sellers in the traditional sense, but it does indicate the club will at least explore trades for its pending free agents. That's where Liriano fits in alongside Marco Estrada, Joe Smith and possibly Jose Bautista.
"I've been part of this before in my life, so I just try not to pay attention to that," Liriano said through an interpreter after allowing two earned runs on a pair of hits. "I try to just concentrate on what I can control, and stuff like that I cannot control. So I came today and just concentrated on my outing, and it worked out."
Earlier this season, Liriano seemed like a lock to be moved at the Trade Deadline if the Blue Jays were not in contention. The outcome is no longer quite that clear because as Toronto struggled, Liriano fared even worse. Prior to Monday night, Liriano tossed two innings or fewer in each of his previous two starts, and his 6.15 ERA didn't exactly have the scouts clearing their schedules to see him pitch.
Monday night offered a glimpse of what made the Blue Jays take a chance on him last season. In 2016, Liriano was similarly struggling with the Pirates, but Toronto was enticed by his upside and decided to make a move. The decision paid off as Liriano became a key piece of the rotation with a 2.92 ERA down the stretch, and there was hope for a bullpen role in the postseason until a head injury on a comebacker in the American League Division Series put an end to that.
Teams could decide to take a similar chance on him again this year. Pitchers such as Oakland's Sonny Gray and Texas' Yu Darvish will attract most of the attention at the Trade Deadline, but with so many teams still in contention, there are a lot of potential buyers out there and not a lot of available arms. Just because it didn't really work out this season in Toronto, doesn't mean it won't work out elsewhere.
"I've never seen him where he doesn't have it, he just gets into control problems," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He has a tough delivery, that's tough to repeat. He falls off to the side of the mound and it's hard, a lot of times, to get that release point in the same slot. But when he gets on a roll and gets on a groove, he can dominate you. His stuff is that good."
Liriano has one more start remaining before the Trade Deadline. What happens after that is anyone's guess.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.