Paul Blackburn has been what the Oakland A’s needed

Aug 23, 2021; Oakland, California, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Paul Blackburn (58) catches the ball during the first inning against the Seattle Mariners at RingCentral Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 23, 2021; Oakland, California, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Paul Blackburn (58) catches the ball during the first inning against the Seattle Mariners at RingCentral Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /
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It is not hyperbolic to say that Sunday was a must win for the Oakland A’s. They had snapped the Yankees 13 game winning streak, but in order to salvage their season, they needed to split the series. With Paul Blackburn on the mound, that seemed to be a tall task.

As it turned out, Blackburn was more than up to the challenge. While he got into some trouble in the first, allowing the first two batters to reach, he was able to escape without any damage. At the end of the day, Blackburn had allowed five hits and a walk over five shutout innings, generating ground ball after ground ball to neutralize the Yankees’ offense.

Paul Blackburn surprising Oakland A’s

Blackburn has followed that formula since being recalled. He has generated 29 ground balls from the 65 batters he has faced, using the A’s defense to his advantage. That has resulted in a solid 2.81 ERA and a 1.188 WHiP in his 16 innings thus far.

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That is not to say that Blackburn is ready to be a top of the rotation arm for Oakland. The A’s appear to be reluctant to allow him to go through a batting order for a third time. Likewise, he does not miss many bats, with just nine strikeouts thus far in his three starts. As Blackburn walks a fine line due to his middling stuff, he can have the occasional implosion.

But he has also been exactly what the A’s have needed. It is impossible to replace Chris Bassitt in the rotation, but the A’s had been hoping for someone that could stabilize that spot for the rest of the year. Blackburn has done exactly that thus far, giving the A’s a solid option every fifth day.

It is far too early to say that Blackburn will be the savior of the A’s rotation. He has not found much major league success prior to this season, and had appeared to be nothing more than minor league depth. His 16 solid innings are an extremely small sample size. But right now, he is exactly what the A’s were hoping for.

dark. Next. A's slide shows Bassitt's importance

Paul Blackburn has been able to stabilize the Oakland A’s rotation. He has been exactly what the team has needed since being brought back to the majors.

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