Nick Blackburn is of to the worst start of his career - a career control and ground ball pitcher who allowed six home runs and six walks in his first three games. After his last start, a five inning, five run, two home run allowed effort that Blackburn was forced out of after just 69 pitches due to elbow pain, the Twins gave him an extra day off.
Apparently the extra rest didn't help as Blackburn came out against the Royals with decreased velocity, and no breaking ball to speak of at all. He left his start today after just four and a third innings, having allowed 10 hits - five for extra bases - and two more walks.
After the game, Manager Ron Gardenhire was adamant that Blackburn's elbow wasn't bothering him and that he 'just didn't have it tonight.' Yeah, right. At this point it isn't a question of whether or not Blackburn is going to wind up on the disabled list, it's just an issue of how long the Twins will wait before having the MRI and sitting him down.
If I'm right on this, and I really think I will be, that means the Twins would likely promote reliever Brian Duensing to the rotation, who did a great job in a starters role late in the season last year. The next question becomes who takes his place on the active roster. Glen Perkins?
Perkins of course had an off season flap with the Twins when he filed a grievance against the team claiming he was sent down to prevent him from gaining service time. The grievance was eventually retracted, but the damage was done. There were a lot of reports during the off season about the Twins trying to move Perkins, but they could find no takers.
Since then, Perkins has done nothing to help his cause. At 27, Perkins needs somewhere to pitch because he isn't getting any younger, and given the Twins depth at starter, it isn't likely to be with them. But after a miserable spring training and a terrible start to his season at AAA, he's not giving another team any reason to want him.
When Blackburn eventually ends up on the DL, this could be his last chance to stick as a Major Leaguer.
The Twins do have other options though, and probably better options in either Jeff Manship or Anthony Swarzak. It'll be interesting to see how the Twins play it.