Why Joe Blanton?

The Dodgers’ late-season deals have for the most part, been dynamite, obtaining Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino, plus a couple of good set-up guys in the bullpen. But, when the Dodgers acquired Joe Blanton, I wrote on August 3, “Questionable Move – Joe Blanton?” and “How is Blanton an improvement for the Dodgers?”

Improvement? He’s been a disaster, at least for his first three games.

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Blanton replaced Stephen Fife in the rotation. In his three starts, Fife provided two quality starts, and one iffy one. The team was 1-2 in those games, scoring a total of seven runs, but five of them were in the one win, scoring only a single run in the other two games. Overall, Fife was 0-1, but with a sparkling 2.16 ERA. Since replacing him, Blanton has also made three starts, pitching ok in his first game, but awfully poor in the following two. The team is 1-2 in those three games, despite scoring 16 runs. In one less inning than Fife, Blanton has compiled a Dodgers’ ERA of 8.22. Oh, yea, Fife was also hitting .333 over his three games.

Fife went back to the minors when Blanton was acquired. Big mistake. Clayton Kershaw is pitching as well as he has all season, and Chad Billingsley has regained the form that originally made him a top prospect. Chris Capuano is coming off his best start in several weeks, and is tied with Kershaw for the team lead in wins. Aaron Harang has been consistently adequate, keeping the team in games and occasionally recording a victory. But that last spot in the rotation is now a disaster area.

The Dodgers have a golden opportunity with the Giants hurting, as we noted earlier today. The recent loss of Melky Cabrera, and Tim Lincicum’s season-long problems compound the effect of the full season losses of Brian Wilson and Freddy Sanchez. They figure to have a tough time bouncing back. Arizona did it last year with the passion of Kirk Gibson, some one-season flukes, and a lot of smoke and mirrors. They had a bit of a run for a while, but they are no threat to finish first or second. The two guys they rallied around last year, trojan scum Ian Kennedy and Chris Young have both sunk back down to where they belong as a ,500 pitcher at best, and as a .210 hitter.

The Dodgers could actually win this division by default.

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