Nick Blackburn Should Be Out of Twins Rotation


Nick Blackburn

The Minnesota Twins offense has a funny way of covering up the teams other flaws.

Nick Blackburn, who has given up five earned runs or more a staggering eight times this year and has a 6.40 ERA, currently is resting at a decent 7-7 mark on the year.

On the flipside, Carl Pavano, who leads the team in wins and ERA, has had three of his losses come when he’s gone eight or more innings in a game this year.

Even more appalling is the bottom three in the Twins rotation as a whole.

Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, and Blackburn all have ERA’s above 4.85, but somehow have a combined winning record of 22-20.

The top two, Pavano and Francisco Liriano, have ERA’s hovering around 3.75 but are only two games better in the W-L columns, sitting at a combined 17-13.

That doesn’t exactly seem fair considering Pavano and Liriano have a combined 26 quality starts to the bottom three’s 20, but every major leaguer will tell you that you never know when the hits will come.

Carl pavano

Fortunately for the worst of the bunch, Blackburn, they have come during his starts.  If he was on any other contender in the majors, odds are he would’ve been out of the rotation long ago.

Still, Ron Gardenhire re-iterated his commitment to Blackburn and his spot in the rotation during the All-Star Break.

“He’s frustrated like everybody else but he wants the ball,” said Gardenhire.  “We’ve got a few guys that need to right their ships, but going and making wholesale changes on guys we’ve put our stock into, I don’t know about that.”

Considering Blackburn has the second worst ERA (Scott Kazmir, 6.92) in the majors of players who have at least 60 IP, Gardenhire’s decision has been rightfully questioned by fans and media alike.

A thought that has picked up more and more steam especially over Blackburn’s last eight starts in which he has a 10.00 ERA, is that the solution to getting Blackburn out of the rotation is currently on the roster.

Looking at how the starters have performed this year, the idea is that Brian Duensing could legitimately be the third best starter on the Twins pitching staff and that Blackburn should be removed for him.

Brian Duensing

Looking at the facts, it’s hard to argue.

Blackburn has obviously not lived up to his contract extension he received this summer, and with the combination of Duensing’s stellar 2010 and good performances as a starter in 2009, the Twins now have options.

Duensing currently leads the Twins with a 1.62 ERA in 39 IP this year, all in relief.  Additionally, Duensing put up sparkling starting numbers in 2009, posting a 5-1 record and 2.73 ERA.  People are very quick to forget that Duensing started game one of the Twins ALDS showdown with the Yankees just eight months ago.

Knowing that, it seems impossible to keep Duensing out of the rotation for much longer, especially with the continued struggles of Blackburn, Slowey, and Baker.  Don’t be surprised if before the Twins promote Duensing to the starting staff he has a short stint in AAA to give him a few longer outings.

That being said, they may not have that luxury.

Currently sitting 3.5 games out of first and only four games above .500, the Tigers and White Sox are looking like the better teams at the moment.

The Twins margin for error is becoming smaller and smaller, and the turnaround to get them back in contention needs to come from the starters.

Duensing won’t be able to fix everything himself, but it would be a step in the right direction.

-Mike Gallagher


  1. paulmbanks says

    Yeah I was genuinely pissed that we didnt knock this guy around more, and instead Jenks blew it and we lost that game. When I saw Blackburn on the pitching form I was penciling that in as a wwin. oh well.

    I will say this 1.) Detroit is likely done, they’re starting to fall apart now and the injuries have really piled up. I don’t think they can get up from that

    2.) The Twins have another run left in them. They always do. They ALWAYS do something hot down the stretch when you don’t expect it.

    I know there’s no timetable on Morneau’s return, but when he does get back. down the line. they’ll go on a streak

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