The Minnesota Twins won their fifth consecutive game Tuesday night, as they defeated the division rival Detroit Tigers 8-6. But starting pitcher Nick Blackburn had another bad outing, allowing six runs on eight hits over four innings. He is now 4-5 with an 8.10 ERA in 13 starts (63.1 innings) this season. He has been especially bad lately, with an 8.64 ERA and .348 opponent’s batting average over his last five starts, leaving the Twins to make a tough decision about him even with their issues in the starting rotation this season.
The Twins signed Blackburn to a four-year, $14 million contract in March of 2010, when he was coming off two solid seasons in row in 2008 and 2009. He is due to make $5.5 million next season and the team has a $8 million option for 2014. The option is virtually guaranteed not to be picked up at this point, barring a major turnaround in Blackburn’s fortunes, and his salary makes him virtually untradeable.
The Twins can demote Blackburn to the minors, but the team lacks obvious options to replace him in the starting rotation right now with Carl Pavano (shoulder) still working his way back and the lack of good options at Triple-A Rochester. Regardless, Blackburn may need to be sent down for a start or two to attempt to get himself right and perhaps even enhance his trade value if the Twins are willing to eat some of his remaining salary. Not an ideal scenario for anyone, but with the way Blackburn is going right now something has to change.