6:00pm: Blackburn will be shut down for ten days, says manager Bob Melvin (h/t Jane Lee of MLB.com).
4:18pm: The Athletics rotation has taken another blow, this time involving righty Paul Blackburn. He is dealing with a right forearm strain, as Jane Lee writes in a piece for MLB.com. It now seems all but certain that Blackburn will not be ready to join the staff to open the year. With the rotation already missing Jharel Cotton and recent signee Trevor Cahill not quite ready to go, that leaves Oakland with much less depth to begin the season than had been anticipated. Lee suggests that “by default”, the A’s early-season rotation is now set to consist of Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Andrew Triggs and Daniel Gossett.
The 24-year-old Blackburn made ten starts last season in his first taste of major-league action. While the righty pitched to a nice 3.22 ERA and a 56.3% ground ball rate, his 4.76 xFIP and shockingly low 3.38 K/9 left some question marks surrounding his capability to repeat that level of run-prevention.
Blackburn was a supplemental first round pick of the Cubs back during the 2012 draft. He came to the Athletics organization by way of a 2016 trade that sent Danny Valencia to the Mariners. Blackburn made his major-league debut on July 1st, 2017, when the righty allowed zero earned runs in six innings against the Braves.