2012 in brief: Surprise August addition got off to brutal start before providing adequate run of pitching for battered rotation.
2013 status: Free agent, unlikely to return to crowded Dodger starting group.
When the Dodgers somewhat unexpectedly acquired Joe Blanton in an early-August waiver deal, he seemed more like a consolation prize than anyone who was really going to make a difference. They’d been unable to agree with the Cubs on Ryan Dempster, and they’d struck out on attempting to wrangle Cliff Lee out of Philadelphia, so they settled on a guy who could at least fill out a rotation spot.
On Blanton first, in my hurried trade post put up between meetings at work today, I briefly said that I liked the deal, and the more I think about it the more I approve. It’s hard to say that Ryan Dempster is going to provide that much more value over the rest of the season – and maybe not even any, considering how rough his last few starts and Texas debut have been – and even if he does, the price for Blanton is monumentally less than the Allen Webster package Chicago wanted. Blanton’s not someone I want starting Game 2 of a playoff series, but he’s absolutely better than Stephen Fife, and any worries about the rotation being overstuffed get set aside when you hear that Ted Lilly had another setback in his return from shoulder pain. (And the $25.5m he’s getting this year and next, well, that just looks better and better.)
Chad Moriyama has more:
Up until 2010, Blanton had a 5.8 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9, but over the last 174.2 innings from 2011 on, he’s posted a 7.7 K/9 and a 1.4 BB/9. As a result, while his ERA is 4.59 this year, his FIP sits at a solid 3.98, while his xFIP and SIERA are both 3.39. The move from Citizens Bank Park to Dodger Stadium could not only make him a significant improvement as a #5, but make him the third best option on a staff with a lot of solid but not great pitchers.
Surprised by the peripherals? So is … uh … everybody, but the more significant point is that he’s a solid upgrade that will help the Dodgers and might actually end up making more of a marginal wins difference than Victorino.
I don’t expect the player to be named to be of any worrisome value, and in fact it might be a way to fix the 40-man issues we discussed this morning if they unload Ivan De Jesus, Chris Withrow, Josh Wall, or Matt Angle.
The player to be named ended up being Ryan O’Sullivan, who is barely even a prospect, so the deal now seems a clear win. Or at least it would be, if not for the fact that Blanton got off to a lousy start as a Dodger, allowing 37 baserunners and 18 earned runs in 21 innings. That kind of poisoned him with Dodger fans, with a select few insisting that Stephen Fife‘s shiny-yet-unsustainable ERA made him an obviously better choice. But Blanton managed to turn it around after that, pitching into the sixth inning in each of his remaining six starts with a great 33/7 K/BB, helping the Dodgers win five of those six games. (And the one game they lost was the one where he had to step in for an injured Clayton Kershaw on Sunday Night Baseball against the Giants, where the loss was far more on the Dodger offense being shut out by Barry Zito & friends than on anything Blanton did.)
All in all, Blanton’s tenure in Los Angeles was generally forgettable, though he provided needed depth and they gave up little to get him. Can’t really argue with that.
Next up! Chad Billingsley disappoints, overwhelms, and breaks hearts, all in the same season!