In desperate need of starting pitcher, the Dodgers went out on the waiver wire and picked up a Philadelphia starting pitcher. Great! Oh, it’s not Cliff Lee? Instead, it’s 31-year-old Joe Blanton, a veteran of nine major league seasons with Oakland and Philadelphia. Blanton’s a free agent at the end of the season, and he’s due approximately $2.9m for the remainder of 2012. The Dodgers have reportedly given up a player to be named later, and any analysis of the deal obviously depends on who that might be.
Much more on this to come, of course, but Blanton is a clear upgrade on Stephen Fife and at least hedges against the possibility of Ted Lilly not returning. What’s odd is that Blanton is not only leading the league in most home runs allowed, he’s also at the top in K/BB ration, which is a totally bizarre mixture. Ben Duronio looked at Blanton’s weird season at FanGraphs on Tuesday:
So how has Blanton posted the top K/BB ratio in the league and allowed this many runs, specifically of the over the fence variety? It starts with tremendous control of every pitch he throws. PITCHf/x has Blanton labeled with six different pitches this year, each of which has a strike percentage above 64.4%. To put that into perspective, Colby Lewis has an even better K/BB ratio than Blanton this year and even he has a pitch that is thrown for a strike less than 60% of the time in his curveball.
Blanton last pitched on Saturday against Atlanta, and should be available when he arrives in Los Angeles. Guessing that means “Live Free or Fife Hard” is going to have to wait. Barring something unexpected in the player that goes back, I don’t mind this at all. Blanton isn’t Lee and he isn’t a star, but he’s clearly helpful at a minimal cost and commitment.