32-Year-Old Pitcher – Free Agent
2014 Fantasy Baseball Outlook
There was no outlook written for Nick Blackburn in 2014. Check out the latest news below for more on his current fantasy value.
Nick Blackburn Contract Information:
Blackburn signed a four-year, $14 million contract extension in March 2010. It includes a $8 million club option for the 2014 season.
Blackburn has decided to retire, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
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Nick Blackburn Split Stats (View Full Split Stats)
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Nick Blackburn: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
There was no outlook written for Nick Blackburn.
Blackburn struggled for a second consecutive season, allowing a staggering 7.39 ERA and eventually he was dropped from Minnesota's 40-man roster. He's always had an anemic strikeout rate (just 4.3 K/9), but when successful it was offset by a strong groundball rate. Last season Blackburn could not keep the ball on the ground (just 43 percent of batted balls) or in the park (23 home runs in 19 starts). Part of the issue may have been health, as he had arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow after the season. Blackburn has $5.5 million left on his contract, so he will likely stick with the Twins at Triple-A all season. However, given his contract and prior success, it would not be surprising to see him get another shot in the majors with Minnesota's lack of depth in the starting rotation.
Blackburn enters the season likely to return to the Minnesota rotation despite a disappointing year in which he struggled, and his season ended early due to a forearm injury. Blackburn's season started strong as he was 6-5 with a 3.15 ERA through June 22. But he then endured a brutal stretch when he went 1-5 with a 7.01 ERA over 11 starts. He was then shut down for the season in August with an entrapped nerve (caused by inflammation) in his forearm. He suffered no structural damage and is expected to be ready for the start of spring training. Blackburn gets groundballs (53.5 percent), but struggles to miss bats. His strikeout rate actually improved to 4.61 K/9IP, but it was among the 10 lowest in baseball for pitchers with more than 100 innings. Since he's so dependent on balls in play, he's a very streaky pitcher, which makes it difficult to juggle him in a fantasy lineup. He normally has good control, but he saw his walk rate jump almost 50 percent to 3.28 BB/9IP last season. If healthy, the Twins seem committed to him in the rotation. However, his low strikeout rate and mediocre velocity limit his upside, and it's easy to see him losing his spot in the rotation.
Blackburn enters 2011 as Minnesota's No. 4 or No. 5 starter after another roller coaster season that saw him close to losing his place in the rotation. Minnesota's decision to sign him to a four-year, $14 million contract extension before spring training looked astute after he began the season 6-1 with a 4.28 ERA. However, his season went south as he struggled with a 9.88 ERA over his next nine starts and was demoted to Triple-A. But he was back in the rotation in late August and had a 3.16 ERA and 33:13 K:BB ratio in 57 innings. Blackburn has good control and gets groundballs (50.8 percent of balls in play), but struggles to miss bats. His already low strikeout rate fell to 3.8 K/9IP last season - the lowest in the major leagues for pitchers with more than 150 innings. Since he's so dependent on balls in play, he's a very streaky pitcher, which makes it difficult to juggle him in a fantasy lineup. His late season success was attributed to a change in mechanics that kept the ball down and resulted in a more passable 5.7 K/9IP in his late season surge. It's also possible he wasn't at full strength as he had offseason surgery to remove a bone spur and other loose particles in his right elbow (he's expected to be ready for spring training). Still, his low strikeout rate and mediocre velocity limit his upside, and it's easy to see him losing his spot in the rotation.
Blackburn duplicated his breakout 2008 rookie season and enters 2010 as Minnesota's No. 4 starter. While Blackburn's numbers were almost a carbon copy of his previous season, he had a roller coaster year by starting strong (3.30 ERA in first 12 starts), enduring a terrible stretch midseason (9.09 ERA from June 10 to Aug. 16) and then finishing strong (3.34 ERA after Aug. 16 and a good start in the playoffs). Blackburn has good control (98:41 K:BB ratio) and gets more ground balls than average, but strikes out too few batters (just 4.29 K/9IP). He is durable and went six or more innings in 17 of 25 starts. Still, his weak peripheral numbers make it more likely he'll have a poor season than a great one.
Blackburn made the most out of an early season trial in Minnesota's rotation to solidify a spot in the rotation and earn a vote in the AL rookie of the year voting. Despite posting a 2.36 ERA with just 19 walks in 148.2 innings between Double-A and Triple-A in 2007, Blackburn was a mild surprise in winning a spot in the rotation out of spring training after an injury to Scott Baker. He went six or more innings in nine of his first 11 starts and coaches liked his bulldog mentality. The coaching staff kept faith in him when his turn came during the one-game playoff against the White Sox where he responded well (losing 1-0 while giving up one run over 6.1 innings). Despite his rookie success, there are some warning signs for 2009. Blackburn has good control (96:39 K:BB ratio), but strikes out too few batters (just 4.96 K/IP) and slipped in the second half (4.68 ERA). He'll enter 2009 as Minnesota's No. 4 or No. 5 starter, but be wary of overpaying for his first-year numbers.
Blackburn could challenge for a spot in the rotation with the Twins next season after a breakout year in the minors. He wasn't thought of as a top prospect before last season, but had a 2.36 ERA with just 19 walks in 148.2 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. He struggled in his first taste of the majors, but put together a dominant Arizona Fall League showing with a 1.64 ERA and 20:2 K:BB ratio in 22 innings. While he has solid control (33:8 K:BB ratio at Triple-A), his strikeout totals are a bit low to project too much success in the majors (just 4.63 K/9IP at Triple-A). Still, he could be productive even in a bullpen role next season.