“If you want to know the truth, you can never throw too many strikes,” said Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel after I asked him if Blanton was hitting the zone a little too frequently. “I think it’s where you put the ball…it comes back to location, location, location.”
So, Manuel wouldn’t completely concede that Blanton was throwing too many strikes. However, reading between the lines, you can tell Blanton is around the wrong parts of the plate.
Interestingly enough, Blanton rates second in Major League Baseball in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 6.17. He’s surrounded on the leaderboard by a slew of All-Star talent. Leading the way is Colby Lewis, but just behind Blanton are names like Lee, Strasburg, Cain, Dickey, and Hamels. What is the difference with those guys? Well, for one, they have better stuff. They can get hitters out by pitching out of the zone more often. Manuel did admit that he thinks Blanton is afraid to walk guys, which sums up his struggles. Too many pitches in the fat part of the dish. Lacking overpowering stuff and worrying about giving up free passes is a recipe for the disaster that his season has become.
That’s where the home runs come into play.
As was the case last night, Blanton has allowed his mistakes to really bite him. The 17 home runs he has allowed this season lead the National League, as do the 102 hits he has given up. We’re used to Blanton being hit around, but this season he’s approaching hazardous levels. His other numbers are ugly, too.
- Blanton isn’t leaving guys stranded. At 61.3 percent, he ranks 6th worst in the National League.
- Normally you’d be happy about his 1.19 BB/9 average. But I think we know that hasn’t translated to favorable stats
- His 5.04 ERA is the 8th worst in the NL.
As I often see on twitter and facebook, fans are pining for the Phillies to do something about Blanton. The issue lies in his contract, which is an albatross for a pitcher of his standing. Blanton makes far too much money for other teams to take a chance on him. He also is too expensive to replace in the rotation. As ridiculous as that sounds – because why should money dictate such things – I think we all understand that salary plays a big part in allowing a guy to continue to pitch/play. Does he deserve a spot? Maybe, maybe not. But the fact is, he’ll be given every opportunity to right himself.
When I asked Charlie if this team was capable of running off five or six straight wins, he immediately put the burden squarely on the pitching staff. The starting pitching last season was it’s strong suit and now that’s no longer the case. So before a winning streak can occur, guys like Blanton need to tighten it up.