On Nick Blackburn
Nick Blackburn has had a terrible second half. He hasn’t gotten a ton of help with some of the defenses that Ron Gardenhire has trotted out there, but there’s no doubt he’s having a worse year this year. His FIP has gone up (from 4.40 to 4.60), his strikeouts have gone down (4.47/9 to 3.79/9) and his walks have gone up (1.82/9 to 2.12/9).
Blackburn had a great year with his fastball last year (10.5 runs above average), so naturally he decided to use it more this year. Logical conclusion. Interstingly, his fastball has absolutely collapsed, down to -8.1 runs. The data is incomplete, but here are Blackburn’s locations on outs in play:
As you can see, he is kind of all over the place. He has tended to leave his fastball up a bit more this year, which paradoxically has coincided with an increased groundball rate. Blackburn has completely defied logic this year, both with his complete games and with his allowing 8 runs in 2 IP. Let’s hope he quits it.