Dodgers Reportedly Sign Joe Blanton

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Aug 12, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Joe Blanton (55) throws the ball against the St. Louis Cardinals during the eighth inning at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 12, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Joe Blanton (55) throws the ball against the St. Louis Cardinals during the eighth inning at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Dodgers and old friend Joe Blanton agreed to a cheap one year contract.

In August 2012, the Dodgers acquired Joe Blanton from the Philadelphia Phillies for a player to be named later. Blanton made 10 starts for the Dodgers that year and was not good. In those 10 games, Blanton posted a 4.99 ERA (3.74 FIP), and he left in free agency to the Angels.

To my surprise, Blanton pitched last year. After his year with the Angels, Blanton signed a minor league deal with Oakland for the 2014 season, but retired after two minor league starts. He came back last year as a bullpen arm, and was a lot better than most people realize.

Blanton began the season with the Royals, and in 15 appearances (4 starts), he posted a 3.89 ERA/3.59 FIP and gave up six home runs in 41 2/3 innings. He was traded to the Pirates for cash at the deadline, and this is where things became interesting.

Blanton pitched 34 1/3 innings for the Pirates, and was phenomenal out of their bullpen. He posted a 1.57 ERA/2.11 FIP for the Pirates (reliever ERA is often unreliable) and had the best rate stats of his career. Obviously it’s a small sample size, but Blanton struck out 10.2 batter/nine innings, allowed only 6.8 hits/nine innings and only allowed one home run in that time. He walked 16 batters in 76 total innings last season, but five of those were intentional.

Blanton was dominant against right-handed batters last year, allowing a .203/.231/.327 triple slash with a 49:5 strikeout:walk rate in 161 plate appearances. He was much worse against lefties, allowing batters to triple slash .281/.331/.459 and a 30:11 strikeout:walk rate in 148 plate appearances. If used correctly, Blanton could be a sneakily good weapon in the bullpen.

Blanton will probably have to continue to prove himself to make the team, but this is a low risk, decent reward signing by the Dodgers. Blanton was very good out of the bullpen last year, and if he can replicate his success this is a steal. If he struggles, it’s an easy enough contract to eat (or just wait out for the year).

This could spell trouble for Alex Wood, who seems to be the odd man out of the rotation and might not even have a long relief role anymore. He could get time in the minors, but he was a proven pitcher in Atlanta and is still young with a lot of team control. He’s probably the best, most replaceable trade chip the Dodgers have at the moment.

This seems to be another low-risk, mediocre reward move by the Dodgers. Cheap enough where nobody should be worried about the move in a vacuum, but if this is the only bullpen move the Dodgers make it’ll definitely be underwhelming.

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