That headline offers as a play on words for you Joe Blanton weight-lovers. You affectionately call him “Cheeseburger” and “Fat Joe.” But I will say this; Blanton looks to be in damn good shape this year, and thats before I get into his latest streak of encouraging performances.
Let’s start with the losing. His name hasn’t been in the loss column since July 21, or 11 starts ago. In that same timeframe, the Phillies fourth starter’s ERA has dropped by more than a run (6.03 down to 5.00). To be fair, during that stretch, it hasn’t always been pretty. And let’s face it, even the best starts by Big Joe lack a certain aesthetic appeal. The important thing is, he’s gotten the job done.
He’s still giving up far too many base runners, sporting a 1.44 WHIP. There are also questions surrounding Blanton’s ability to get beyond the seventh inning, something he has yet to accomplish this season.
Looking at both sides of Blanton (the good and bad, stop joking about his weight), which do you see? Do you see the guy that has begun to emulate last years consistent number-three starter? Back then, Blanton strung together 11 consecutive quality starts, routinely getting to, or past, the seventh inning.
Or, are witnessing a can’t-get-worse scenario? As in, it couldn’t get any uglier with him pitching, so his season could only go north from his 7.28 ERA in mid-June. Which man is he? Is he someone you would trust with a fourth starters spot in the playoffs, behind the ultimate trio of Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt? That’s where it gets dicey.
I’m not certain he’s proven to be close enough to their level to be counted on as a starter in the postseason, should that time come. You could be looking at a three-man rotation scenario, because as well as Joe has pitched as of late, there are just too many concerns. Still, it’s good to see him back, and there are a few weeks remaining to change the minds of the nay sayers.