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Elephant Rumblings: Paul Blackburn out for rest of season

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MLB: Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Wednesday, Athletics Nation!

Welp, that’s a wrap for Paul Blackburn in 2022. Following a string of rough starts and landing on the IL with finger discomfort, the A’s have decided it best to shut down their lone All-Star for the remainder of the season.

Paul has a torn tendon in his right hand per trainer Nick Paparesta, but the A’s are hoping that a long spell of rest and recovery will set the right-hander straight without the need for surgery.

This is another disappointing development in what began as a dramatic breakout season for Blackburn. Through the first three months of the season, his numbers were All-Star caliber:

  • Blackburn, through July 2: 2.90 ERA, 87 IP, 67 Ks, 22 BB, 7 HR, 3.48 FIP, 3.66 xFIP

Unfortunately, Blackburn has been positively shellacked in five starts since then, dating back to just before his All-Star appearance.

  • Blackburn, since July 8: 9.25 ERA, 24⅓ IP, 22 Ks, 8 BB, 8 HR, 6.81 FIP, 4.72 xFIP

That rough stretch ballooned Blackburn’s ERA all the way from 2.90 to 4.28 in a hurry, and he won’t have a chance to get back in the groove until next year.

So what happened? Did Blackburn simply regress after a streak of good luck? Or is he just not up to a full season in the starting rotation—manifested by declining performance and injury?

Blackburn made some tangible adjustments this season, such as with his curveball grip and his increased usage of the pitch. He also pitched 111⅓ big league innings in 2022, way more than in any of his five previous seasons and nearly half his career total. So it’s plausible that Blackburn really has upped his game in a meaningful way but never built the endurance to handle a full season workload.

Here’s wishing Paul Blackburn a full recovery so he can get back to dealing for the A’s in 2023!

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