Big Joe Blanton returns to propel Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton was dominant against the Miami Marlins on Thursday. (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Hey, who is that guy on the mound for the Phillies? He is big in stature and his fastball is clocked at two miles per hour faster than it has been his entire career. It is rare to get excited over the performance of a fifth starter for a team, but after Joe Blanton’s performance against the Marlins this week, I am.

In all honesty, I do not expect Blanton to keep pitching the way he did this week, but it would be pretty interesting if the Phillies could get that production from him on a consistent basis. His performance was not perfect by any means, but he did look better then he has for most of his post-2008 Phillies career. Going into the season, the jury was still out on Vance Worley, since he has only had success for one season thus far, and Blanton, who hasn’t had much success since 2008.

Blanton had been mentioned in many trade rumors during the offseason. Specifically, the Toronto Blue Jays were said to have interest in his services, but the fact that he has a larger contract would have required the Phillies to pay most of his salary in order to trade him. They refused to do that, which might actually help them for 2012.

Blanton reached the sixth inning for the first time since April 23, 2011. It may have been his adrenaline that carried him into the seventh, but Big Joe was defiantly pitching out of character all game. If he keeps pitching this way, he may be serviceable in another way also: a trade. Blanton could be a number-three pitcher on many teams in the major leagues, and if the Phillies can receive a decent bat in exchange for him, then a trade may be worthwhile.

I’m a realist, so I understand that it is only one start, and that as fans, we really cannot expect Blanton to be an All-Star this year. However, it does bring a bit of hope to a team that started off so slow offensively that a small sense of urgency already set in to the fan base. If Blanton and Worley can be above-average, then the Phillies may be able to fight through their offensive woes and keep a hold on the division title. Go Joe! Go!

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