I found myself wondering in the moments leading up to the first pitch of Wednesday's game which level of performance from Nick Blackburn would be best in the long run.
Would a superficially impressive low-run outing, such as he had in his previous start, help con another organization into buying into the illusion that he can pitch? Or would it merely con the Twins into hanging on to him?
Or would another shelling help more by convincing management that the $7 million or so he's still owed (this year and next) is a sunk cost?
What we got, of course, was the shelling. Thirteen outs and 10 hits, eight runs, a pair of homers and one measly strikeout. That is the Nick Blackburn I've come to expect.
A couple of commenters on an earlier post dismiss the necessity for strikeouts. They could not be more wrong. Blackburn's strikeout rate for the season is now under 4 K/9; the league average is 7.3. You cannot name a successful pitcher with a K rate that far below league average -- not today, not at any point in baseball history. They don't exist.
Blackburn's strikeout rate was always subpar, and now it's worse. What's more, it's gotten worse as the rest of the league is striking out more hitters. He's losing ground.
Losing ground. And losing games. It's not going to change. We have a sufficient track record to establish that.