Philadelphia Phillies: Why Joe Blanton Won't Be Their Worst Starter in 2011

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Philadelphia Phillies: Why Joe Blanton Won't Be Their Worst Starter in 2011
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The Phillies’ “Big Four” has gotten all of the media attention this offseason.  Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels are four of the best starters in the league and combined form a tandem not seen since the Atlanta Braves of the mid-90s.

But what about Philly’s fifth starter?

Pitcher Joe Blanton has been overlooked much of the offseason, yet will be a big factor for Philadelphia this season.

In fact, he will not be their worst starter in 2011.

Sounds crazy, right?  Well, let’s go over a few scenarios that could happen this season.

After seeing Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright go down for the season with an elbow injury, we are all made aware again that pitchers can go from being a Cy Young contender to out for 12-15 months in one pitch.

Now, I’m definitely not predicting that one of the Phillies’ “Big Four” is going to need Tommy John surgery this season, but at the same time, one of them could see the disabled list.

Lee and Hamels have had injury scares in the past and Halladay and Oswalt aren't exactly youngsters anymore.  Blanton would be a better starter because he would actually be contributing on the field for the Phillies.

The more plausible scenario, though, is a trade.  If a team like the St. Louis Cardinals is in need of another starter come July, they could be calling Philly about Blanton’s availability, much like they did with Jake Westbrook last season.

The Phillies could wind up trading Blanton before the deadline to the Cardinals or to a team like the Yankees, Twins or Rangers.  Philadelphia would not need Blanton in the playoffs, and they could manage relying on a spot-starter for the final two months of the season.

If Blanton is not with the Phillies, he can’t be their worst starter.

Regardless, if there is an injury to a member of the Phillies’ staff or if there is a trade this summer, it will be an interesting season for Joe Blanton.

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