If given the opportunity to redraft your teams today, there would surely be a different strategy in play. You wouldn't have taken that guy there, you would have taken this guy there etc etc, but I know one thing for certain.
You would draft Nick Blackburn over Francisco Liriano.
That may come as a shock to many, but if I were redrafting tonight, I wouldn't even touch Liriano. He's been that bad. Mean while Blackburn has quietly gone about his job, agruably becoming the Minnesota Twins true "ace".
Take a look at his numbers through June 2nd. 5-2, 33 K, 20 BB, 3.50 ERA, 1.36 WHIP. Definately not earth shattering but far more servicable then those posted my his stable mate Liriano (do you get the hint I'm sick of him yet?) On the bright side you've still got a chance to pick him up before it's too late as he's owned in 51% of CBS leagues. It's not as if you could do much better for a fifth starter. But you could do worse.
In his previous five outtings he's lasted 6 or more innings, holding opponents to a total of 7 earned runs in that stretch while winnings his last 3 starts. Could this more then just a hot streak?
Let's take a look and see whether it's wise to jump aboard the Blackburn train or look else where.
2007- (Combined AA-AAA) 148.2 IP 10-4, 75 K, 19 BB, 2.60 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 4.55 K/9, 1.15 BB/9, 3.94 K/BB
2007- 11.2 IP, 0-2, 8 K, 2 BB, 8.04 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 6.42 K/9, 1.60 BB/9, 4 K/BB
2008- 193.1 IP, 11-11, 96 K, 39 BB, 4.05 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 4.47 K/9, 1.81 BB/9, 2.46 K/BB
2009- 69.1 IP, 5-2, 33 K, 20 BB, 3.50 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 4.29 K/9, 2.60 BB/9, 1.65 K/BB
As you can see Blackburn is by no means a strike out master, mustering a sub 4.50K/9 in his MLB career. Which means that the odds of a dominate 8 strike out night are pretty low.
So why has he been so good this season?
1- Right Hand Dominance- Yes that's correct, Blackburn is absolutely controlling the righties. They're hitting an unimpressive .213 against him. The lefties on the other hand, are feasting ,hitting a skyhigh .318 off him with 5 HR and 21 R, compared to 1 HR and 11 R. It may have something to do with the lefties sitting on the fast ball ( he is throwing it 59.3% of the time a near 10% increase from last season).
2- Good Defence- You would be surprise how much impact a solid defense can have on a pitchers ERA and WHIP. Blackburn's FIP sits at 4.20 a full 0.70 run higher. That may not seem like much but it's a significan't amount namely the distance between 1st and 6th in the category.
3- Expected ERA- His current ERA is the stuff that want on your team, his XERA is not. It falls right in line with his FIP at 4.25. Given that last year's ERA was 4.05 it doesn't come at much surprise. His K rates and BB rates are down clear indicators that his XERA could easily be matched.
Unfortunately for owners now may be the time to part ways with Blackburn. The wins may be nice, but his value may not be higher then right now.