If you’re making eight figures and post a 4.85 ERA over the last two seasons, plus have spent a long stretch on the disabled list with arm trouble, people get a little ticked off. That’s where things stand with Joe Blanton after an ugly 2010 season and an even worse 2011.
It was a doomed year basically from the get-go. In his first start of the year against the New York Mets, Blanton allowed seven earned runs in 4 1/3 innings, and it was basically chalked up to one of those days early in a long season. His next start against the Nationals was better, although most any start would be. Blanton got through six innings, giving up five earned runs.
Not long after, the elbow troubles began. In late April, he hit the disabled list with nerve damage, taking with him a 5.92 ERA through just four starts. He’d come back on May 9, make two starts that lasted just five innings each, and then return to the DL on May 23, staying there until he would return in a bullpen role on September 5.
Blanton did not start again for the remainder of the year, but did throw a few innings out of the pen in some meaningless games. He also pitched in the Florida Instructional League in mid-October, reportedly hitting 90 on the gun consistently. At that time, the big righty said he would rest his arm in the offseason, opting to go without surgery.
Surgery or not, 2012 MUST be a better season for Blanton because his 2011 was an expensive wash. Luckily enough for the team, Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick stepped in and were outstanding as starters (taking into account Oswalt’s DL stints, as well). If they hadn’t gotten such production from them, Blanton’s disappointing campaign would have been even more apparent. Injuries do happen, but his 2011 did nothing to provide the naysayers much positive reinforcement.
In 2012, Blanton will again make over $10 million. They pay him that to be an innings eater – not to be a Cy Young candidate, but more or less to keep the bullpen as fresh as a back-of-the-rotation pitcher can. Moving forward, he’ll need to go past 180 innings and post an ERA of around four to be close to worth what he’s getting paid. As for this past season, it was certainly one to forget on many levels.
GRADE: 0/10 – Blanton barely pitched and when he did as a starter, it wasn’t pretty. He at least showed the elbow was OK late in the year, but for all that money, the Phillies got squat in ’11. We truly hope for a bounce back in 2012 from Big Joe.