So - another complete game for Nick Blackburn, who's having an All Star-worthy first half of the season. He's sixth in the AL in ERA, fifth in innings pitched, and tied for second in complete games. Most folks are referring to him as the new "ace of the staff," only three months after Scott Baker's contract made Baker, at least at the pay window, the team's ace.
With all of that said, let's not forget that Blackburn was more or less exactly average in 2008, his first full year. He was 11-11 last season with an adjusted ERA of exactly 100 (league average). He's on a great run at the moment - over his last 11 starts, he has a 1.98 ERA, and has pitched at least six innings in each outing - but this represents about one-third of one season.
As far as contracts go: 2008 was his first full year, and since he was barely around in 2007, he'd be a league-minimum serf through at least 2010, and under team control through 2013.
So, today's discussion topic: if you're the Twins, how do you approach Blackburn's contract? Do you attempt to buy out his arbitration years after this season, based on 2-4 really good months? Do you make him "prove it" over two seasons, saving in the short term but possibly increasing his price?
Keep in mind that Baker is currently the only starter that you have extended for any length of time; Francisco Liriano and Glen Perkins are arbitration-eligible after this season, while Kevin Slowey is on the same clock as Blackburn.