The Philadelphia Phillies shipped starting pitcher Joe Blanton to the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier today, freeing themselves of the $2.9 million they will owe Blanton for the rest of the day while giving the Dodgers an underrated starting pitcher for the stretch run of the regular season.
Philly fans are notoriously tough on their players, and Blanton was never a fan favorite despite some pretty fine moments with the club. He was acquired at the trade deadline in 2008 and went undefeated in 13 starts down the stretch, posting a 4-0 record. His 4.20 ERA and 3.9 walk rate weren’t anything to brag about but that’s pretty good production from a guy that was an afterthought acquisition at the deadline.
And then he went on to turn in a fine World Series start (six innings, two earned runs), and who can forget his unprecedented home run, the only one he has ever (and probably will ever) hit? In fact, that whole postseason Blanton was really good – 3.18 ERA and a 3.00 strikeout to walk ratio in three starts.
Blanton was pretty good in 2009, going 12-8 with a 4.05 ERA for the season and although he struggled in 2010 (9-6, 4.82 ERA) and missed much of 2011 with an injury, he has rebounded to put together a very solid stretch with the Phillies, ending his last eight starts with the team at 3-3 with a 3.55 ERA and a ridiculous 54 strikeouts to just six walks. In fact, he’s leading the league in strikeout to walk ratio (6.39) and fewest walks allowed per nine innings (1.2), and if you predicted that before the season, go play the lottery for me.
Blanton wasn’t worth the $24 million contract he signed, although that’s more a problem with the current contracts major league baseball teams give to average starting pitchers. But he had his moments, and like Matt Stairs, Blanton should be remembered for one swing of the bat at a crucial time.