Los Angeles Angels' Joe Blanton, Strikeout Artist?

By Thom Tsang
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Not that it’s really helping the Los Angeles Angels any, but Joe Blanton is actually pretty good these days.

No — seriously.

Forget for a moment that this is a starter who is still carrying a 5.62/1.60 ERA/WHIP and a .325 BAA over 83.1 innings in the 2013 season. Instead, let’s focus our attention on the guy who took the mound on Tuesday against the Seattle Mariners, stymied (most of) them through 6.2 innings and allowed just a pair of runs … only to have to take a no-decision because once again, the Angels just couldn’t score enough runs.

Oh, and he happened to strike out 11 batters too — for the second time in three starts.

If you don’t already know, Blanton isn’t exactly what you’d call a strikeout artist. Sure, he had a career-high 7.82 K/9 between two teams in 2012, but his 6.21 career K/9 should tell you that double-digits in that column doesn’t happen for him all that often.

So when both his second and third time of reaching that career-high of 11 Ks happen within one start of each other, naturally people are going to notice.

With an incredible 12.81 K/9 over his 19.2 innings in June, Blanton easily leads the league, and owns a 9.33 K/BB that tops Cliff Lee‘s 8.75 on the month as a result. Now, if he could only stop giving up those homers …

See, while Tuesday was Blanton’s fourth quality start in his last five outings, he’s earned just one win in that span — and it’s no coincidence that the one win game in the only game in which he did not allow anyone to take him out of the park. With another pair of solo shots given up against the Mariners, the 32-year-old helped himself about as much as his team did.

Which is too bad, of course, because it’s not likely to last.

That’s not to say that Blanton can’t be effective, though. He’s clearly better than his disastrous numbers and 1-10 would suggest, and the fact that he’s going to continue getting starts against the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners is a good sign that his ERA is more likely to continue falling in line with his 4.42 FIP thanks to his excellent control.

For now though, he might want to take a screenshot of the strikeout leaderboards for the month just as a memento, that’s all.

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