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Athletics Select Paul Blackburn


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The Athletics announced they’ve selected the contract of right-hander Paul Blackburn. He’ll get the start in tonight’s game against the White Sox. Oakland placed starter Chris Bassitt on the 10-day injured list to open an active roster spot, while the club already had a pair of vacancies on the 40-man roster.

Blackburn appeared in the majors for Oakland in every season from 2017-20. Tonight will mark his first big league outing this year, as he’s spent the year with Triple-A Las Vegas after being passed through outright waivers in February.

Over the past four seasons, Blackburn took the ball 21 times (18 starts), working 99 2/3 innings. He’s only managed a 5.69 ERA at the highest level, thanks largely to his trouble missing bats. Blackburn has struck out just 11.9% of opposing hitters — a little more than half the league average — with a tiny 7.1% swinging strike rate.

Despite the lack of swing-and-miss stuff, Blackburn looks like a capable fill-in for the starting staff. He’s a very good strike-thrower, walking hitters at a minuscule 6.5% career clip. The sinkerballer has also had plenty of success keeping the ball down, racking up groundballs at a huge 53.2% rate in the majors. It’s been more of the same for Blackburn in 2021, as he’s induced grounders on 53.9% of balls in play at Triple-A. His 20% strikeout rate with the Aviators is still below-average, but it’s Blackburn’s best mark at any level of his professional career.

Oakland also offered an update on Bassitt, who sustained fractures to his right cheek and jaw after being struck by a 100 MPH line drive in a terrifying incident during last night’s start. A’s trainer Nick Paparesta told reporters (including Shayna Rubin of the San Jose Mercury News) Bassitt is expected to undergo surgery next Tuesday. Paparesta estimated it’d take around six weeks for the bones to heal. General manager David Forst said the team is understandably more concerned about Bassitt’s individual well-being than a potential timeline for his return to action at this point, but he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Bassitt making it back to the mound this season (via Rubin).