Joe Blanton Having Solid Season for Philadelphia Phillies

July 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

While much of the attention has been focused on Cole Hamels’ struggles, J.A. Happ’s impressive rookie campaign, and the Phillies’ deadline shopping options; Joe Blanton has quietly established himself as the team’s most dependable starter over the past two months.

When he was acquired from Oakland last season, Blanton came with a reputation as an “innings-eater.” While he was certainly solid (4-0, 4.20 ERA) in his 13 starts with the Phillies last season, he averaged only slightly better than 5 1/3 innings per start during that span, more than a full inning below his career average. Not exactly the bullpen-savior many believed he would be.

This year has been a different story entirely.

Through July 26, when he went eight innings against St. Louis in his 19th start of the season, Blanton has been averaging 6 1/3 innings per start. That stat only tells part of the story, because Blanton has been getting progressively better each month this year:

·          In April, Blanton was 0-2 with an 8.41 ERA in four starts while averaging only five innings per start.

·          His five starts in May lasted an average of 6 1/3 innings each, while he went 3-1 with a 4.65 ERA. 

·          June was even better, though Blanton (and the Phillies at-large) struggled to get wins. He averaged 6 1/3 innings per start once again, with a 3.62 ERA and a monthly record of 1-1.

·          July, though, has surpassed all the others. Blanton has been a spectacular 3-0 this month with an ERA of only 1.21. He has pitched into the eighth inning three times this month and has averaged close to 7 2/3 innings per start.

Blanton’s most impressive achievement of the season might be that he has lowered his ERA in every single start since May 26. After entering that game against Florida with a 7.11 ERA, Blanton has reduced that number by three whole runs in the span of only two months. His ERA sits at 4.11 following Sunday’s win over St. Louis.

In the 11 starts he has made dating back to May 26, Blanton has averaged over 6 2/3 innings per start and has a record of 5-1. The Phillies have been only 6-5 in those starts, thanks to their poor performance in support of Blanton during the month of June, which accounts for all five of the losses.

If he pitches well over the next two months, this should go down as the best season of Blanton’s career. He may not win 16 games like he did in 2007 with Oakland, and his ERA may not be as low as the 3.53 mark that he posted in 2005, but the complete package is stronger this year. And, at 28, Blanton is young enough to make you believe he can still get even better.

With the addition of Cliff Lee, Blanton will slide into the No. 3 spot in the rotation, which is a good thing. As good as he has been, you have to be a little nervous with him matched up against another elite team’s No. 2 guy in a postseason series. In the No. 3 spot, he compares much more favorably.

Hamels, Happ, and Lee might be getting most of the attention this year, but if Blanton keeps pitching seven innings or more every time he takes the hill, more people should take notice.


Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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