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2009 Projection: Joe Blanton

Joe Blanton, SP (RHP)
Age: 28

2008: 197.2 IP / 9-12 / 4.69 ERA / 66 BB / 111 K / 0 CG / 1.40 WHIP

Summary: Joe Blanton came to the Phillies carrying a 4.96 ERA and 1.417 WHIP from the American League. He improved upon that in the National League, recording a 4.20 ERA and 1.373 WHIP. It was a better than average year for Blanton in the National League; he was able to go six innings most times and keep the offense in the game long enough to win, which is why he finished his Phillies stint of 2008 without a blemish. Eleven of his 13 starts with the Phils went at least five innings. He had a bad season with strikeouts and walks, recording a low 5.05 K/9 and high 3.01 BB/9. His combined 1.40 WHIP was his second-worst mark.

Career Level: Ascent (Year 3)

Green Flags: He certainly improved in the National League, pitching against inferior offenses with a 4.20 ERA. … Blanton’s ground-ball rates remained strong at 44.3 percent. … As a Phillie, most times, he placed his pitches very well, using his moving fastball high to fool a lot of hitters. … Blanton surrendered two or fewer earned runs in eight of his 13 Phillies starts.

Red Flags: Blanton’s fly-ball rates rose from 32.5 percent to 35.3 percent from 2007 to ’08. … His HR/9 bumped up tremendously from 0.63 to an even one, meaning he was very likely to give up two homers in a few games. … The walk rates are not great, and they only became got in the second half (49:31 K:BB).

Prognostication: Blanton has four pretty good pitches that, if he uses them correctly and they’re mostly working, he can be incredibly strong. His postseason numbers (2-0, 3.18 ERA, 18 K, 6 BB) indicate he has the ability to buckle down and pitch great games. While he won’t likely outshine top-line pitchers, he might surprise many in 2009. He is nearing his prime, and with a full year in the National League, it’s possible we’re looking at the start of a big string for Blanton.

2009 Projection: 193 IP / 13-7 / 3.82 ERA / 62 BB / 108 K / 1 CG / 1.34 WHIP

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