In 2008, Joe Blanton was a staple of the Philadelpha Phillies rotation, one that would lead the team to a successful World Series campaign. Five years later, he is struggling so mightily for the Los Angeles Angels that he has been yanked from the rotation and exiled to the bullpen.
Blanton had posted a 5.66 ERA through 20 starts this season, not exactly what the Halos had in mind when they signed him to a three-year, $22 million deal this past offseason.
With ace Jered Weaver‘s injury sidelining him for a month and a half and Jason Vargas‘ lengthy hiatus from the starting rotation, it was imperative for the Angels that Blanton step up in a big way. He didn’t, earning a demotion to relief duties while former middle reliever Garrett Richards assumed a starting role.
Richards has shined since taking over for Blanton, earning a 2.75 ERA through 39.1 innings while Blanton has under-performed even more severely in relief, posting a whopping 10.13 ERA through seven bullpen appearances.
Though I wouldn’t expect to see too much more of Blanton before 2013 is over and done with, the Angels will be stuck with him until at least 2014, after which they can drop their team option on him. Though Richards may well remain a starter, Los Angeles will have yet another vacant slot in the rotation should Blanton’s absence be permanent.
The current corps of Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Vargas, Jerome Williams and Richards simply isn’t cutting it. Now it’s all about containing damage, and moving on to 2014.