When you look at Joe Blanton’s stats, what jumps out at you? His 5-12 record and 4.96 ERA this season? Well, while those are important numbers to consider, I dove a little deeper to try to get a feel for what type of pitcher the Phillies got in Blanton.
Obviously, the Phillies got the lesser of the two A’s pitchers in their fire sale, but Rich Harden was shipped to Chicago with the injury risks Cubs fans have come to know and hate with Kerry Wood and Mark Prior.
Blanton, however, is a work horse. In his three full seasons in the big leagues prior to 2008, Blanton averaged 208.2 innings per season. He is on pace for 217 innings for the ’08 campaign.
Blanton replaces Adam Eaton in the rotation who was on pace for 176 innings and a 5.71 ERA. As a result, the Phillies’ bullpen, which Charlie Manuel does not want to over work, will have to pitch less innings down the stretch as Blanton goes deeper into games.
However, Blanton has been inconsistent this year. In 20 starts, he has had 9 good outings, 6 average appearances, and 5 poor starts. Todd Zolecki tells us that if you take away Blanton’s four worst appearances, he would have a 3.58 ERA. Either way, Blanton brings in an ERA nearly one full run lower than Eaton’s.
Brett Myers will be back this week to start against the Mets on July 23. If Myers or Blanton don’t work out or a starter gets injured, look for the Phillies to turn to AAA starter J.A. Happ who was highly impressive in his two starts this year during Myers’ hiatus in Lehigh. Happ hasn’t missed a beat in his return to AAA. Last night he struck out 12 en route to an IronPigs victory.
Blanton has only faced a few hitters on the Marlins and Braves in his brief career. However, he has faced the Mets. Mets’ starters are hitting .190 off of Blanton (includes Beltran, Reyes, Wright, Delgado, and Schneider).
Finally, Blanton is a second half pitcher on a second half team. His career ERA in August is 2.67. His career September / October combined ERA is 3.49. If he can manage an ERA in this neighborhood the Phillies will be in good shape.
Joe Blanton is no CC Sabathia, Rich Harden or Roy Halladay. This is not a defense of Pat Gillick who couldn’t land the blue-chip arm Manuel and Phillies fans wanted. However, it is important to note that Joe Blanton is much more than a 5-12 record and a 4.96 ERA.
The most important question is whether the Phillies gave up too much to land Blanton. David Murphy writes that the Phillies sent prospects Adrian Cardenas, Josh Outman, and Matt Spencer to Oakland. The first rule for all baseball General Managers – beware of Billy Beane. Oakland GM Billy Beane has a history of pulling off great trades for Oakland. Coming into the 2008 season, Cardenas was the #2 prospect in the Phillies organization while Outman ranked 4th. Spencer has struggled this season. I would rather have saved one of these two top prospects, but, if the Phillies hold on and win the NL East, Philadelphians will quickly forget the names Cardenas and Outman.