Week 21 Two-Start Pitchers Update

Here is the latest update to Week 21 two-start pitchers. Again this list is subject to change going forward.

Pitchers not listed on last update

MIN – Nick Blackburn

Pitchers no longer scheduled for two starts

MIN – Francisco Liriano
NYY – Dustin Moseley

With Liriano battling a tired arm, the Twins moved his start back three days, making Blackburn a two-start pitcher this week. Minnesota recalled Blackburn from Triple-A, where he made four starts and put up a 2.49 ERA. Blackburn was toiling in the minors because he had a 6.66 ERA in the majors. In 10 games during June and July, Blackburn was 1-6 with a 10.05 ERA. In that span he had allowed 11 HR in 43 IP and had 14 BB and 18 Ks. Additionally, batters had a .381 BABIP.

Previously Blackburn survived despite a low strikeout rate due to his miniscule walk rate and his ability to keep the ball in the park. All three metrics moved in the wrong direction this year. His K/BB ratio, which had been 2.46 and 2.39 the previous two seasons, sits at 1.30, which would be the second-worst mark in baseball if he had enough innings to qualify.

Similarly, Blackburn had consistent HR/9 marks the past two seasons. In 2008 he had a 1.07 mark and it was 1.09 last year. But in 2010, Blackburn has allowed 19 HR in 104 IP for a 1.64 HR/9. And this is with his FB% being a career-low 33.8 percent. Blackburn has a 14.1 HR/FB mark in 2010.

Not surprisingly, batters are hitting everything Blackburn throws to the plate. All four pitches he throws have a negative Pitch Type Value and batters have a 93.5 Contact% versus him, including a 96.2 Z-Contact%.

Blackburn had a sore knee during Spring Training and complained of a sore arm during the middle of April. But there were no injury reports during his rough patch in June and July.

His peripherals also show a bad pitcher, although one significantly better than what he has been in 2010. Blackburn’s FIP this year is 5.69 and his xFIP is 5.09 for the year. His velocity is right where it has been previously. The big problem is his command. Without overpowering stuff, Blackburn needs to be able to place his pitches precisely. He has not done that in 2010 and so far has paid the price.

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