Thanks to not having a ton of velocity seperation between his changeup and fastball (just 5.7 mph), Blackburn’s changeup gave up a .391 wOBA last year. It was only thrown 17 times last year and did feature a lot of weak-contact (79.7 average exit-velocity against) so it was some bad-luck.
Blackburn’s curveball is his best strikeout pitch, registering a 17.2% swinging-strike percentage in 2019. It was a tad unlucky, as it featured an xwOBA almost 0.30 points higher than his wOBA.
Blackburn’s fastball is more of a sinker, having a 50% groundball rate and a launch angle of one degree. Unfortunately batters made a lot of contact with it and most of it hard, having an xSLG of .688 against it.
As recent as 2017 Blackburn’s slider registered a pVAL of 6.1 but it was a different story in 2019, as he couldn’t hit the zone with it (39.6% zone percentage). It was a decent swing-and-miss pitch with a 14.6% swinging-strike rate but only registered one stirkeout according to FanGraphs.
Blackburn flourished in 2017’s brief debut (3.22 ERA) thanks to a slider that spawned a .250 wOBA and 6.1 pVal. Although his secondary offerings deserve far more blame for surrendering 23 runs in 27.2 innings last season, his primary pitch posited a .315 wOBA. An injured elbow that ended his season in July could take responsibility for the decline.
Blackburn’s four-seamer produced one whiff in 52 tries last season. Yet despite opponents making contact at will, they produced just two hits on account of most batted balls staying in the infield on the group or via a pop-up. It’s a tough act to sustain with a hittable heater thrown in the 88-92 mph range.
Blackburn’s changeup ceded more hits in 27.2 innings last year (five) than in 2017’s 58.2 frames (three). The grounders turned into fly balls over a bite-sized sampling. He’ll need to repair the offering when returning from an elbow injury.
The best way to burn Blackburn? Wait for him to throw a sinker. Opponents have staked the poor pitch to a .394 wOBA over two seasons. All the ground balls (60.4%) and pop ups (30.8 infield-fly %) can’t save a woefully hittable pitch that has netted a -3.3 pVal.
A contact pitcher to a fault, Blackburn has drawn his highest career swinging-strike rate (13.9%) on a curveball he infrequently takes out of storage. Its usage rate crawled a modicum from 9.3 to 9.8 percent, still not enough to make a notable dent.