Blanton could provide short-term help
July, 18, 2008
Joe Blanton is clearly an upgrade over Adam Eaton, who has been atrocious since the day the Phillies gave him a three-year contract, and seems to be getting worse all the time. The difference could easily be worth two wins over the remainder of the season, because Blanton is better than Eaton, but also because he's more likely to give six-plus innings. Eaton is barely averaging five innings a start, hasn't pitched into the eighth since his first start of the year and didn't get out of the fourth in either of his past two outings. A pitcher like Eaton can tax a bullpen pretty quickly, and Philadelphia's bullpen -- probably the best in the NL to this point in the season -- is already down a man with Tom Gordon hurt. However, Blanton isn't a great bet for long-term success in Philadelphia. He isn't a ground-ball pitcher, so his moderate home run totals are likely to spike as he leaves the huge confines of Oakland for the smaller park in Philly. (He's shown a substantial and very consistent home/road split, with a career ERA a run higher on the road.) More damning is that Blanton has never had a true out pitch, and other than his fluky 2007 season, his strikeout rates have always been poor for a full-time starter. That trick works when you're playing in front of one of the best defenses in the majors in Oakland, but less so in front of Philly's defense, where all three outfielders are below average for their positions and the first baseman is a DH wearing a glove.