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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fantasy baseball: Did anyone start Francisco Liriano?

Edwin Jackson threw a no-hitter for Arizona on June 26, 2010. The Diamondbacks thought so highly of him they traded him to the White Sox a month later.

Jackson is 50-54 in his career.

Juan Nieves (32-25 career) tossed a no-no for the Brewers in 1987.

Francisco Cordova (42-47 career) and Ricardo Rincon combined on a 10-inning no-hitter for the Pirates in 1997.

Bud Smith (7-8 career) had a no-hitter for the Cardinals in 2001. He pitched one more season in the big leagues.

Heck, last month, the Marlins' Anibal Sanchez (32-30 career) came within three outs of throwing his second career no-hitter.

Obviously, Francisco Liriano's no-hitter Tuesday night isn't the most unlikely we've seen. The above list was compiled looking only at each major-league team's most recent no-hitters -- not all of them.

But Liriano's was one of the momentous games many fantasy owners dread -- the ones in which the player has the best game of his career, while he is on your bench.

Prior to Tuesday's gem at the White Sox, the Twins pitcher was 1-4 with a 9.13 ERA this season.

He had pitched more than five innings once in five starts.

He had as many walks (18) as strikeouts (18) in 23 2/3 innings pitched, and he had allowed 27 hits -- good (bad?) for a 1.90 WHIP.

The Twins are scheduled to play only five games this week, making Liriano's Tuesday start his lone appearance of the week. If you left him out of your lineup, you are far from alone. (My guess is Liriano wasn't used in more than three-quarters of the leagues in which he is owned.)

Liriano has pitched effectively in two of his last three starts, dating back to a win at Baltimore on April 18, when he allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings. But in his two wins this season (April 18 and Tuesday), Liriano has a combined 11 walks and four strikeouts.

On the season, he is 2-4 with a 6.61 ERA, 1.56 WHIP and four more walks (24) than Ks (20).

Since his brilliant 2006 (12-3, 2.16 ERA), he has been extremely inconsistent. For his career, he's 40-36 with a 4.12 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 3.4 walks per nine innings.

His best asset in terms of fantasy production is his strikeout total (587 in 581 2/3 career innings). If walks were rewarded, he'd be the Roy Halladay of the category.

Next week, Liriano is slated to start twice -- May 9 at Boston and May 15 at home vs. Toronto.

Naturally, you start him following a no-hitter, right?

Uh, no.

The Red Sox have scored 74 runs in 14 home games this year, compared to 52 in 15 road contests. Liriano's start against Toronto in a pitcher's park (Target Field) seems favorable -- until you realize Liriano is 0-2 with a 15.75 ERA and 2.38 WHIP in two starts at home this season.

I wouldn't play him -- no-hitter or not.

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