Newest Detroit Tiger pitcher Francisco Liriano to make spring debut on Tuesday


The Tigers have made it very evident that they will basically be holding their own job fair down in spring camp when it comes to the pitching department. There is no where to go but up for the team who finished with the highest team ERA in baseball a year ago (5.36).

Simply put, they will take any and all help they can get, both in the rotation and the bullpen. And the team’s newest hurler, 34-year-old Francisco Liriano, will make his team debut down in Lakeland on Tuesday.

Liriano signed with Detroit on a major league deal late last month, almost assuring him a spot on the Opening Day roster in some capacity (unless he completely tanks it or gets injured along the way). With so much uncertainty in the starting staff and relief unit, the once-prized prospect of the Minnesota Twins will get every opportunity to earn a spot.

Liriano, in 323 career games pitched, has logged a 4.33 ERA. He underwent Tommy John surgery way back in November 2006, prompting him to miss the entire ’07 campaign. Outside of a four-year stretch from 2013-16 with the Pirates and Blue Jays when he revived his career, he’s struggled mightily as a primary starter. So much so, that he was a full-time long relief man for the Astros when they acquired him from Toronto last season, making 20 appearances out of the bullpen.

But Liriano figures to be on the Tigers’ Opening Day roster come March 29 when they host the aforementioned Pirates at Comerica Park. What that role will be as, however, remains to be seen.

In other words, Liriano provides Detroit with a nice safety blanket of sorts. Ideally, they would probably like him in a long reliever “sixth starter” type of role. But should some of the perceived starters get injured and/or not perform up to par as Opening Day draws near, don’t be surprised if Liriano is pegged as the No. 4 or 5 guy in the rotation.

His chances have also become heightened in recent days, following the unfortunate season-ending injury to minor league signee and non-roster invitee Travis Wood. The 30-year-old was expected to fight for a big league roster spot similar to what Liriano will be vying for.