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Is Blanton Throwing Too Many Strikes?

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, June 22, 2012 12:10 PM | Comments: 10
Analysis, News, Opinion, Posts

Blanton is struggling once again (AP)

“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.

Avatar of Pat Gallen

About Pat Gallen

Pat Gallen has written 1678 articles on Phillies Nation.

Pat is Editor-in-Chief of Phillies Nation. He also covers the Phils for 97.5 FM in Philly.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 BART SHART

    Actually, this is an insightful article. Blanton does throw some meaty strikes. He needs to keep the ball DOWN in the strike zone. He does not have the pure stuff that a Hamels and some of the other studs have who also throw a lot of strikes. If he keeps the ball DOWN, then he often has a pretty solid outing.

     
  • Avatar of "Big Ed" Delahanty

    Normally, I’m open-minded to when players struggle, or try their best and still aren’t producing, but when it comes to Sloppy Joe, the guy is a joke. Even as a fifth starter, he is putrid. Bring up Cloyd or another minor leaguer, how much worse can they do? As long as that minor leaguer isn’t a bullpen guy, eh? Lol. Worley is so much better than both Joe and Kendrick, who are both albatrosses. One more thing, both KK and the Slopster both say in interviews at how well they pitched and were keeping the ball down, and how the other team just hit some good hits. What drugs are they smoking?! Worley is the opposite:
    “I was pretty disgusted,” Worley said. “Yeah, I was like, I go this far into a game and this is what happens? I mean, there’s nothing I can do. I thought I put the ball where I wanted it. It was down. I had him out front, leaning a little bit forward. The ball just kept carrying. A line drive, you know?”
    At least Vance has the b@lls to admit a mistake and he only gave up four hits and two runs.

     
    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      In what you quoted, is he admitting a mistake?

       
      • Posts: 0 George

        “I thought I put the ball where I wanted it. It was down.” sounds like the same thing you claim that Blanton and Kendrick are saying.

         
  • Posts: 5190 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    Sorry this is completely O.T. I just thought everyone would find it Interesting. Perspective of a Dodgers blog. You only have to read the first few paragraphs to get the gist.

    http://throughthefencebaseball.com/memo-to-the-dodgers-step-away-from-the-cole-hamels-rumors/23151/

     
    • Posts: 32 kittykat

      Avatar of kittykat

      I am sure Cole won’t have any trouble finding a team willing to sign him. Dodgers probably do need offense at this point but in the offseason, who knows? I am of the opinion that his next team will be the “mystery team” and not any of the much talked about suitors with the exception of the Red Sox who could very much be in the running for Cole’s services.

       
  • Posts: 0 George

    I agree with Manuel; you can’t throw too many strikes. In Blanton’s case, if he were walking people, he’d be giving up three run homers instead of two run homers.

    Blanton’s big problem is his inconsistency in strike location, not his propensity to put the ball over the plate. He has, after all, pitched a team leading two complete games, so he’s not always bad. He just can’t seem to keep up that kind of effort. Most fourth/fifth starters can’t.

    As far as bringing up Cloyd, I have my doubts. Every promising pitcher the Phils have promoted this year has completely stunk. Much like Blanton, they, too, have been inconsistent. Cloyd might be okay, but there’s no guarantee on that.

     
  • Avatar of "Big Ed" Delahanty

    @george/schmenkman:
    It should have read “both say in interviews at how well they pitched and despite the fact that they were not keeping the ball down, and how the other team just hit some good hits.” my error. I was typing on my iPhone. Really should stick to the computer. I could see how what I wrote was confusing. I was trying to show that despite horrible performances where they didn’t keep the ball down they both thought they pitched well and were fine despite giving up a sh!tload of runs. I also mean to say at least Vance was disgusted with his pitch. Mistake was a bad term to use. Sorry, I was pissed when I wrote it. But Joe and Kyle still gotta go.

     
    • Posts: 0 George

      Big Ed: Your explanation is noted. I’ll also note that I sometimes even have trouble with a real computer keyboard.

      Kendrick will be gone soon, at least out of the rotation, because Halladay isn’t going to be on the DL all year. I’m not sure what can be done about Blanton, because the replacement would probably end up being Kendrick.

      The odd thing is that so far this year, Kendrick and Blanton are the only two Phils pitchers who have been credited with complete games. Baseball can be strange.

       
  • Posts: 534 Bruce

    Avatar of Bruce

    For those who want to rid of Blanton I ask, what is your alternative choice? Blanton is not all that bad as some would lead us to believe. As one posted, he does have TWO completed starts and NO one else has that many in the rotation.

    The problem as I perceived it to be is locating his pitches for strikes (Manuel is right). Up, down, side to side (on the black), changing speeds are the keys in upsetting the batter’s timing and keeping him off balance. The only time a pitcher can waste a pitch is on a favorable pitch count (ahead of the hitter) and ideally when the hitter is set up to be looking for something else. When Blanton’s game is off, he is struggling and not hitting his desired location and with a hitter’s count, he has to predictably come in and the hitter knows it. Hence, those many gopher balls flying out of the park.

     
 
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