Sunday, July 20, 2008


I've been busy with work, so I haven't had a chance to comment on the Joe Blanton trade to Philly. I can't assess what the Phils gave up, and from what I've read it's a mixed reaction. It seems they gave up some of the top potential talent in their system, although that might be faint praise.

So I'll focus simply on Blanton, who is 27. He was 14-10 with a 3.95 ERA last year and is 5-12 with a 4.96 ERA this season. The numbers indicate he might have greatly benefited from pitching in Oakland's spacious ballpark. That doesn't bode well with the change to the tiny Zen.

But why the struggles this season? I'm not a pitching coach, but I play one by misreading and speculating. (All the follow stats are from First, Blanton's K-BB ratio is worse. Last year, his K/9 and BB/9 were 5.48 and 1.57, respectively. This season, those numbers are 4.39 and 2.48. Last year, he threw 65% strikes, this year it's 63%, so there's not much difference there.

His line drive, groundball and flyball percentages all are similar to 2007. His BABIP was .306 last year and is .310 this season.

The only major difference I noticed was he is throwing more fastballs and fewer sliders. His curveball and change rates are virtually the same. His velocity on his fastball is right around 89, the same as last year. However, his average velocity on his curve is up (from 72.9 to 75) as well as on his slider (from 80.9 to 82.3).

So, has Blanton been overthrowing on those pitches? I have 2 theories here. First, the increase in velocity, particularly on the curve, is cause the pitch to flatten out a little and make it more hittable. My other idea is Blanton's increased velocity has hurt his control on those pitches, and maybe his confidence, and forced him to throw more fastballs. Perhaps his fastball is more hittable.

Anyway, it seems something worth exploring. Also worth noting was Blanton was 2-6 with a 3.69 ERA as of mid-May. He was 3-6 with a 6.44 ERA since then.

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