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Thursday (Blackburn is still your Game 4 guy) edition: Wha' Happened?

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • September 30, 2010 - 8:40 AM

Five ugly losses and one decent win can give many of us short-term memories. As we watched Scott Baker throw five innings of two-run baseball last night -- a mediocre effort by most standards, but an oasis by comparison to the desert of previous road trip pitching -- we couldn't help but wonder if Nick Blackburn was really the best choice to be the Twins' No. 4 starter in the playoffs. After all, he's been terrible on the road (7.57 ERA) and was rocked in his last start two days ago (eight runs vs. KC). Would Baker, who misses more bats and has great numbers vs. Tampa Bay this year and a decent track record vs. the Yankees, be a better choice?

Then we came to our senses. Really, it comes down to a larger sample of recent results and an eyeball test. Blackburn, before Tuesday, had thrown six consecutive quality starts since returning from the minors. Baker has been battling a nagging arm injury. And he has the greater propensity -- in our mind -- for a blow-up game in the playoffs.

We'll take Blackburn, on the road, with his composure and his ability to keep the ball on the ground (only two homers in those six starts before Tuesday). Blackburn is slated to go Sunday in the regular-season finale. If he defeats the Blue Jays, he'll finish with an 11-11 record for the third consecutive season. That's a statistical oddity, but it says everything you need to know. Baker might be higher-risk, higher-reward, but if you want to know what you are getting, we say Blackburn is still your guy.

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