Is it time for concern with Paul Blackburn?
By David Hill
Paul Blackburn had been one of the biggest surprises for the Oakland A’s at the start of the season. He had gone from minor league filler to a possible All Star, a potential building block for the A’s. The debate was no longer if he would remain in the rotation, but whether or not the A’s should trade him now at the height of his value.
However, with the trade deadline approximately two months away, the A’s had plenty of time to make their decision. Likewise, other teams had plenty of time to see if Blackburn was for real, if he had gone from being minor league filler to a viable major league option.
Paul Blackburn starting to get hit once again
Those questions are starting to get a bit louder. Blackburn has struggled in his past two starts, allowing eight runs on 12 hits and two walks over his 10.2 innings while striking out eight. His ERA and WHiP are starting to creep up as those hard hit balls are starting to find openings in the A’s defense.
It was likely a matter of time before that happened. Blackburn ranks in the 40th percentile in hard hit rate thus far, and is in the 23rd percentile in chase rate. While he has been great at keeping the ball off of the barrel and has displayed excellent command, it was inevitable that those well struck balls would come back to haunt him.
That does not mean that it is time to give up on Blackburn and expect that he will regress to being a Quad-A type of player. Regression was to be expected at some point. He can still be a solid option in the A’s rotation as they move forward, even if he does not end up as part of their future.
Every player goes through slumps. Every pitcher will have their moments where they struggle and get hit hard. It is just a part of the cycle. Blackburn is going through that type of a stretch now, and while he may not return to the same form he showed over the first two months, he can still be a solid option during the A’s rebuilding process.
Paul Blackburn has been roughed up in his past two starts. It is not time for the Oakland A’s to be concerned – at least, not quite yet.