Blanton’s Keys To His Best Start Yet – Phillies Nation

Blanton’s Keys To His Best Start Yet

BlantonwinLast night, Joe Blanton turned in his most impressive start in a Phillie uniform. For seven innings he worked the plate like a madman, baffling the Marlins into 11 strikeouts, a career high. He walked into a small bit of trouble, but each time he worked out of it impressively.

Seventy-two of Blanton’s 114 pitches were strikes. That’s a good ratio, especially for a pitcher who tries to use all corners and sides to work hitters into bad outs. Sifting through pitch data, you could see why hitters were having so much trouble:

More late sliders and sinkers. Normally Blanton throws 25 percent or fewer sliders in his starts, and almost never throws the sinker. But last night he ramped up the sliders late in the game, adding many more sinkers than usual. Conversely, he threw fewer changeups (about 5 percent).

The vertical and horizontal movements of his pitches all increased. On July 3, 2007, Blanton had maybe the best outing of his career, a complete game against Toronto. In that game, all of Blanton’s pitches moved astoundingly about the zone. While his vertical movement was strong, his slider broke far off the plate throughout the game. His curveball even had radical horizontal movement. Last night, all of his pitches moved across the zone in the same pattern.

Low pitches. Blanton stayed on the lower half of the zone all night. His fastball, as predicted, was on point thanks to follow-through. That makes the sinker better, and by throwing it more often, it resulted in more confusion-inducing swings low in the zone. In short, Blanton’s gameplan was down, down, down, and he was good, good, good.

If Blanton can continue working the zone this way, it’s absolutely possible he turns into the solid ground-ball pitcher we hoped he could become. An ERA close to 3.50 isn’t out of the question, either.

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    May 27, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    The reason Blanton’s slider was so successful last night is because he fixed the mechanical flaw he was talking out. In previous starts, he would have the same arm angle for all of his pitches for the first few innings, making it tough for hitters to recognize a fastball from a slider.

    As he got into the game a bit, he would begin delivering sliders at a 3/4 angle instead of straight over the top as he is accustomed to. The pitch begin to just “spin” and hang in the zone, rather than bite and dive out of the zone as it does when the throws right over the top.

    He needs to concentrate on staying “on top” of the ball and you’ll see more of the same results from last night. Joe Blanton is a good pitcher and his numbers will improve dramatically if he can remember to keep the same arm slot on his delivery of all pitches. Once he drops a bit, hitters recognize the difference in pitches, the ball will just spin, and it’ll hang in the zone for the hitters to have a field day on.

    That said, Joe pitched a marvelous game tonight. Any trade talk surrounding Blanton is ludicrous at this point considering he’s still young and has a track record of success in this league when he gets going. I personally believe you’ll see a couple great starts follow this one by Big Joe.

  2. Manny

    May 27, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    This has been the best performance by a Phillies starter in 2009.

  3. Geoff A.

    May 27, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    I was there last night and it was truely a great outing. He appeared to get stronger as the game went on. I believe that he had 5 strikeouts in the 6th and 7th innings alone. Great to see.

  4. Albert

    May 27, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    2009 Joe Blanton just goes to show some posters here that players can fall into slumps. I expect some good starts moving forward, but there will be times this year where he struggles. At that point all the “trade Blanton” posters will come out again.

    Maybe Moyer can follow in the footsteps of the rest of our staff in May

  5. Pat Gallen, Phils Examiner

    May 27, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    It’s too early to say Blanton is “back”. He’s on the right track though, thats for sure. Great to see him find his delivery and get back to form. Now, give us a few more quality starts in a row and he could be on to something. But until I see multiple games of quality, I am far from sold.

  6. Albert

    May 27, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    It is never as bad as it seems, nor is it ever as good.

  7. MIKE

    May 27, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    I hope Joe continues but lets face facts. Its one game and he has looked aweful. lets all keep in mind that it was against the Marlins. Plus no Hannley after he got hurt. There offense is average. Do it against the Mets, Yankees, Dodgers….

  8. Pete

    May 27, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Yes, there are real fans of baseball out there! Here’s how to tell us from the phony “fair weather” ones:

  9. Phillies fan in NY

    May 27, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    anyone see the end to that orioles/jays game today? yikes, jays are running out of answers.

  10. Brian Michael

    May 27, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    The broadcasters also mentioned Blanton throwing a lot of first pitch strikes to batters. He wasn’t towards the end, but that’s always a good way to start a game.

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