Clayton Blackburn shines with River Cats, ready for big leagues

With the San Francisco Giants’ season coming to an end quickly there’s a chance they skip a couple of their starter’s spots in the rotation. Clayton Blackburn of the Sacramento River Cats is trying to earn a look at the big league level before the offseason hits.

The 22-year-old right-hander came into the Sunday’s game with a 3.03 ERA, 3.57 FIP in 116 innings pitched with 94 strikeouts, 31 walks, and just six home runs. There was extra incentive as he had a chance at the Pacific Coast League crown and earn himself a spot with the Giants. He didn’t disappoint.

In his final regular season start against the Albuquerque Isotopes, Blackburn dominated. He went 7 scoreless innings, struck out 5, got the win and his earned run average dropped to 2.85, lowest in the Pacific Coast League. He struck out rehabbing outfield slugger Corey Dickerson and retired him in all four plate appearances.

His four-seam sat at 89-90, two-seam 86-88, changeup 78-79, and curveball 70-72. He went inside on lefties with a front door sinker, used his four-seam high in the zone, curveball low on both sides of plate, and change-up very rarely.

Blackburn is on the 40 man roster, so he could be promoted without problem this September, but general manager Bobby Evans already said they won’t start him if they’re still in the race. 7.5 games back with 25 games left, their playoff chances have decreased to 1.3% (FanGraphs).

With the 270 innings pitched last season, the Giants could skip one of Madison Bumgarner’s starts just to ensure he’s healthy going into the offseason. Same goes for Chris Heston, and Jake Peavy, but Bruce Bochy has expressed interest in giving Tim Hudson another start, who is likely retiring after the season.

Regardless, Blackburn will go into the Spring of 2016 competing for a rotation spot with the big league club.

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