Article: Powers: Nick Blackburn makes adjustments
Posted 07 March 2012 - 12:25 PM
"You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time." -- Jim Bouton, "Ball Four"
Posted 07 March 2012 - 02:05 PM
Posted 07 March 2012 - 02:19 PM
I think he's an interesting case because I often see him written off as "mediocre, 5th-starter-at-best". But as Parker points out, you see almost Liriano-like variation from month to month. Not that he has near the kind of stuff that Liriano has, but it's easier to be hopeful about a guy who shows flashes of really good play than it is about a guy who just goes out there every week and gives up 3-4 runs in 5-6 innings.
Not Liriano-like variation. Liriano varies from brilliant to awful while Blackburn varies from slightly above average to awful.
Blogging Twins since 2007 at The Tenth Inning Stretch
Posted 07 March 2012 - 08:51 PM
Posted 08 March 2012 - 07:35 AM
Posted 08 March 2012 - 12:03 PM
I don't have the information on hand but one of the recent pitch f/x summits had a study that showed that for every inch a player moved on the rubber closer to the same-sided hitter, the better they were at inducing a swing a miss -- or something similar to that. That may or may not be deception-based or simply being able to locate a pitch better (working the inner-half better) even if you just slide a half a foot over.
He mixes that with an adequate slider and changes speeds well. I read his forearm injury last year kept him from throwing the slider, so I'm sure batters would sit on the sinker.
He MIXED in an adequate slider but he really has not done so since 2009. In 2010, then-Indian Russell Branyan told Blackburn after the season that the team knew that he was unable to throw that pitch and they all sat on his sinker.
Posted 08 March 2012 - 10:08 PM
Posted 08 March 2012 - 11:18 PM
Posted 09 March 2012 - 08:09 AM
Posted 09 March 2012 - 02:08 PM
Blackburn had two solid seasons (2008 & 2009) for the Twins where he threw over 190 innings. The last few years he has struggled to stay healthy and his numbers have went dramatically down. His innings pitched went down, his walk totals went up, and his ERA suffered because of it. There is no doubt the 4-year contract (2010-2013) was a bad deal financially for the Twins. However, with Baker ($9.5 option), Liriano, Pavano, and Marquis all potentially leaving as free agents in 2013 it would be nice to have some stability with the #5 spot in the rotation. If Blackburn could chew up more innings and keep the ball out of the seats, he would be much more valuable.
My guess is that Blackburn's elevated home run rate from last year was because of his greatly-diminished command, like his walk rate. I think a similar thing happened to Baker in '09 and '10.