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At the risk of sounding extremely negative, it is time to switch gears and point out that there are positive reasons that the Twins need to make/keep room in the rotation by cutting ties with starter Nick Blackburn.
The Minnesota Twins have been known for cultivating young players in their farm system and promoting players within, not necessarily trading for what they need. The Twins currently have a handful of young pitchers that have made their way to the majors (some still in AAA) that deserve either a shot at or a permanent spot on the roster:
Diamond in the Rough
With his call-up on May 7th, the Twins brought Scott Diamond into a situation where they were in desperate need of a starter to take the mound and make a statement in the midst of a floundering rotation.
Diamond made his presence known quickly by slicing his way through the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in his debut with seven shutout innings pitched while giving up just four hits. Since then, Diamond has compiled a record of 5-1 in 44.2 IP with a stellar 1.61 ERA, including just eight earned runs surrendered in seven games and four walks.
Walters Sets the Tone
Not long after Scott Diamond joined the rotation, P.J. Walters was also thrown into the fire of the failed pitching staff. He settled in right away with three quality starts in his first three games and has also thrown the only complete game for the Twins this season.
While he has appeared in six games thus far in the 2012 campaign, his record is 2-1 and due in no small part to an offense that struggled early on.
In his first six games this season, Walters has pitched 36.2 innings with an ERA of 4.42 and averages six innings per start—second only to Scott Diamond, who averages 6.1. Nick Blackburn averages just over 4.2 per start.
Hendriks Leading Rochester
Liam Hendriks began the 2012 campaign by going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in four games. He was promptly sent down to AAA Rochester to sort things out—mission accomplished.
Since his demotion, Hendriks has posted a record of 5-0 in 46.1 IP and has a strikeout to walk ratio of 42/13. His ERA is currently a stingy 1.95.
The best news about Hendriks' turn around is that it shows he is able to make adjustments and fix the hiccups in his pitching. This is a quality that many current Twins pitchers (Blackburn included) seem not to possess.
Down But Not Out
Pitching prospects Alex Wimmers and Kyle Gibson are two players that Twins fans have had their eye on for a couple years now—and not necessarily for their pitching prowess.
Both pitchers have been sidelined with elbow injuries (Gibson with Tommy John surgery and Wimmers with an ulnar tear) that have delayed their track to the big leagues. Despite the injuries, both are still looked at as future pitchers for the club.
Gibson is hoping to make it back on the mound by August. Wimmers and Gibson are said to have good control, so look for them to be given a chance once they are healthy.
Honorable Mention: Cole De Vries.
The Twins have pitchers who can replace Nick Blackburn today and do better than he has. It is time to let go of the parts that are no longer working out.
Arrivederci, Signore Blackburn.