Sorry Blanton. You have really helped the Philadelphia Phillies out the past few years when we needed you. But Joe, we just don't need you this year.
In their 127-year history, this is the most dominant top end of the rotation for the Phillies. If you doubt that, just ask yourself if there has ever been a Phillies team that you have been more confident in.
Just so you can understand how much better these three pitchers are than any other one-two-three in the league, I'll throw out some stats for you.
All three of Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt have pitched over 30 starts and over 200 innings. Combined, they have six shutouts, 12 complete games, and one perfect game. They total more complete games than any other team in the league.
Roy Oswalt has the least strikeouts out of the three of them with 192. Cole Hamels has the worst WHIP, at 1.19 (Halladay's is 1.04 and Oswalt's is 1.02). That is an extremely high floor for those three starters.
Halladay is the front-runner to win the NL Cy Young award with a 2.44 ERA. Oswalt follows him in the rotation with a 2.73 ERA, finished by Hamels, who has a 3.09 ERA. That's right, the Phillies have a number three starter who has an ERA just a tad over 3. To put into perspective how good that is, the Yankees' number three starter, Phil Hughes, has an ERA of 4.21, and the Braves' number three starter, Derek Lowe, has an ERA of 4.
The Phillies selected that they would like to play the NLDS in eight days, which allows the Big Three to start every game on normal rest. It's the NLCS and World Series in which the Phillies have a big decision to make.
Assuming that they get to the NLCS, there is about .01% chance that the Phillies give Kyle Kendrick the game four start, barring injury. It's not a secret that the Phillies have no trust in Kendrick and his 4.73 ERA, even sending him down to the minors for a short stretch earlier in the season. This is also Kendrick's first full year in the majors, after stretches in the previous three years.
So the big decision is to whether start Blanton for game four and have Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels on normal rest for the rest of the series, or to have "H2O" also start games four, five, six, and seven on short rest.
This year Blanton has had one of the worst years in his career. His 4.74 ERA is a good 1.65 more than his teammate one spot up in the rotation. This is one of the biggest drop-offs between a 3 and 4 starter in the league.
Besides the horrid ERA, Blanton has a 1.40 WHIP, 134 strikeouts, no complete games, and no shutouts. He has 28 starts this year, so there is no blaming the injury which put him out all of April for bloating his stats.
Even his postseason stats aren't as good as most people think they are, with a 3.89 ERA in 34.2 total innings pitched. And even if he had great playoff stats, why should the 34.2 playoff innings he has thrown in the past few years make up for these horrible 174.2 innings he has thrown most recently this year.
So what would ever make me want to start him in important playoff games when we have other great options?
The only reason that there is a possibility of starting Blanton is that H2O might not handle three games rest very well. But there is no reason that they can't. Each of the big three has pitched over 200 innings, which shows that they can handle the workload. All of them like to work deep into games, and by the results they have showed this season, nothing really throws them off.
There is no way we should risk throwing Blanton when we have pitchers head and shoulders better than him, even if they only have three days rest. Phillies fans are probably familiar with the 2009 Yankees, who only had three good starters on their team, and it worked out just fine for them on three days' rest.
There is no guarantee that any series will go seven games, which means that there could be only one or two of the Phillies' starters going on three days rest.
H2O can get lots of rest in the off-season, so the Phillies need to maximize their usage while they are available, in the NLCS and World Series.