Joe Blanton

Joe Blanton pitches well, gets the win in first start since 2013

Update: June 17, 2015 9:45 pm PT

Joe Blanton gets the job done for Kansas City

As it turned out, well at least on Wednesday, Joe Blanton pitched one of the better performances in his career. Maybe it wasn’t the best in terms of number of innings (5.0) as he’s thrown 10 complete games in his career, but for a return to the mound as a starter after almost two years, his performance was more than the Royals could have asked for.

Blanton pitched five innings, allowing one earned run on five hits, no walks while  striking out four batters. He threw just 73 pitches, probably because he is still getting stretched out to start, 49 of which were for strikes. Now 1-0 on the season, Blanton still has an ERA under 2.00 at 1.80. 

There is always question on how long he can keep up this level of play because in the past that hasn’t been the case. In all but two of his 11 big league seasons he’s had an ERA over 4.00. 

You never know though. The 34-year-old may finally be hitting his stride for all we can guess. It’s not unprecedented and as I always say, “It’s baseball, anything can happen.” He was the only one of my comeback “kids” to make it this far while I didn’t think that even one would find a starting job (even if Blanton’s is only temporary he still made it back).

While I don’t personally have a lot of confidence in Blanton being able to maintain this level of performance, I’m always pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong. Time will tell. But the Royals got what they were hoping for from Blanton on Wednesday, winning the game against the Milwaukee Brewers by a score of 10-2.

Original Text: June 16, 2014 11:15 pm PT

Can Joe Blanton really be a starter again?

On Wednesday former big-league starter Joe Blanton, 34, will have his first chance at making a comeback to the pitcher that he once was.

With Jason Vargas and Danny Duffy on the disabled list they Kansas City Royals have to turn to Blanton, who was out of baseball in 2014. Blanton’s’ last start in the major was July 22, 2013 for the Los Angeles Angels.

He allowed four runs and was unable to complete the fourth inning dropping his record to 2-13 and it led to the Angels dropping him. He made a couple of starts in early 2014 for the Oakland A’s Triple-A affiliate but was unsuccessful at making any kind of comeback.

After sitting out 2014, after an 11-year career, it appeared Blanton was done, until he announced that he’d signed a minor league deal with the Royals. Spending the first month of the season in Triple-A, Blanton was called up as a reliever on May 16, 2015.

He is the first and only one of my “comeback kids” (a feature I ran during spring training) who has made an appearance in majors so far this season.

He’s pitched well in relief for Kansas City. Blanton’s appeared in seven games pitching 15.0 innings allowing three earned runs, a home run and three walks while striking out 13. His ERA? 1.80. 

But now he’ll be starting. Will his 1.80 ERA translate into his starting role?

Blanton has been in a starting role for his entire 10-year career and his numbers have never been stellar. A back of the rotation starter at best, in my opinion. In parts of five seasons with the Oakland Athletics he managed to keep his ERA under 4.00 just twice and it was never that low again. 

Upon being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008, he posted a 4.47 ERA over parts of five seasons. The Phillies traded Blanton to the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 2012 season. In half a season with the Dodgers he posted a 4.99 ERA. 

In 2012, Blanton moved across the freeway and signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Angels. He remained with Los Angeles through the 2013 season and was released in March 2014. As noted he returned to the Athletics on a minor league contract but that didn’t last very long.

I didn’t really think that of all the older players (mostly pitchers) that were trying to make comebacks that Joe Blanton would be the one to actually pitch in the Major Leagues again. He already has but as a reliever, the question that will be answered Wednesday is can he comeback and be a starter?? Or even should he ever have been a starter?

Check back here after the Royals game Wednesday for the results of Blanton’s pitching efforts!

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