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Is Joe Blanton The Philadelphia Phillies' Best Starting Pitcher So Far?

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 06:  Joe Blanton #56 of the Philadelphia Phillies walks off the field against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on June 6, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Phillies 3-2 in 12 innings.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
C KSenior Analyst IJuly 11, 2009

He's Joe Blanton.

He's just another No. 3 or 4 starter who will amount to nothing more than an innings-eater. Correct?

Not quite.

Going back to May 26, Joe Blanton of the Philadelphia Phillies has allowed more than three runs just once, and gave up three runs twice. He has also lasted seven innings in all but three of those starts.

In that span, Blanton's ERA is an extremely solid 2.44. Blanton is never a stat pitcher, and usually only gives you seven innings and three or four runs. Yet he has found a way to become more than an innings pitcher recently.

Blanton's overall ERA to date this season stands at 4.44, but was as high as 8.41 after April. If it had not been for his horrid start, Blanton would be teettering on the brink of a sub-4.00 ERA.

So the question begs to be answered: Has Joe Blanton been the best pitcher for the Phillies thus far?

The only true competition for Blanton would be J.A. Happ, who is 5-0 with a 3.04 ERA. On the surface, it clearly appears that Happ has the upper hand. Yet, Happ does not have the number of starts Blanton does, and does not pitch as deep into games.

When Happ takes the mound, you can be confident to get a quality start, but you know the bullpen is likely to be used for two or three innings.

When Blanton starts every fifth day, you can feel confident that the bullpen wil.

Is it safe to call Blanton the Phillies' best starting pitcher this season? Possibly. Happ will beg to differ that his numbers conquer those of Blanton's, but his numbers since he turned it on tower those of Happ in that same span (Blanton's quality pitching began May 26, and Happ began as a starter on May 23).

If I had to choose Blanton or Happ to pitch one game in which I needed a win, I would easily take Blanton.

I know I can depend on him pitching into the eighth inning, possibly even longer, and him allowing three or less runs. With this offense, that should nearly guarantee a victory.

But hey, I'll still hands down send Cole Hamels to the mound if I need a win in October. There's no doubt about that.

But when it comes down to performance this season, I have to go with Joe Blanton.

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