Pop quiz: which pitcher leads the National League in BB/9 IP (1.194)? Would you believe this pitcher also leads the National League in K/BB (6.308)? It would make sense, then, that a pitcher this successful this season would rank second in the NL in batters faced (419).
What if the same pitcher lead the NL in home runs allowed, has a 4.87 ERA, and a 7-6 record?
Welcome to Joe Blanton’s 2012 pitching odyssey.
On the surface, Joe Blanton won his seventh game of 2012 by nearly dominating the other team (8 Ks/1 BB) with one misstep (a Jose Tabata home run). Strangely, a lot of Blanton’s games have fallen into this category, all while pitching to nearly his career averages.
Take for instance Blanton’s BABIP for 2012 .299, just one point lower than his .300 career mark. Or his BAA which is exactly the same for 2012 as his career number (.270). His WHIP, even with splitting BB/9 IP in half for 2012 (1.2 on 2012 v. 2.4 for career), remains similar as well (1.24 for 2012, 1.34 career).
Blanton has the opportunity to have a tremendous 2012 season should he be able to reduce his HRs, perhaps his best since 2009 or even best as a Phillie. He is on pace to match or beat his strike out season highs and has improved his K/9 IP by 1.5 2012 v. Career.
Where Blanton’s crossroads takes place is at the intersection of home runs and strikeouts. Is Blanton’s agressive strike-throwing allowing for more home run opportunities? Possibly, although it is then odd that his standard stats remain so close to his career norms while his peripherals improved so greatly. If Blanton can avoid the long ball in the second half, he will enter his free agency is a valuable, middle-of-the-rotation option, vital to the Phillies reaching their sixth straight postseason.