Joe Blanton
Joe Blanton
37-Year-Old PitcherRP
 Free Agent  
Free Agent
2018 Fantasy Outlook
After two outstanding seasons working out of the bullpen, Blanton imploded for a career-worst year. He trimmed his walk rate to 6.7 percent, but Blanton's strikeout rate fell by more than five percentage points to 20.0 percent. Home runs were a big problem -- Blanton's HR/9 jumped from 0.79 to 2.03 as his HR/FB more than doubled. The main culprit behind those struggles was a decline in the quality of his slider. Opponents hit .260 and slugged .429 against Blanton's slider, up from .177 and .305 in 2016, according to Brooks Baseball. Further, his whiff rate on the pitch fell from 23.0 percent to 15.4 percent, and his fastball was diminished as well. The 37-year-old should find a home in a big-league bullpen, but he will likely be confined to the middle innings for most of 2018. Read Past Outlooks
RANKSFrom Preseason
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$Signed a one-year deal with the Nationals in February of 2017.
Continues to struggle
PWashington Nationals  
August 12, 2017
Blanton has a 7.11 ERA and 1.61 WHIP with 29 strikeouts over 31.2 innings this season.
ANALYSIS
Blanton has little fantasy value at this point with the Nationals shoring up the back end of their bullpen at the trade deadline. The 36-year-old has been slightly better since coming off the DL in June with a 5.59 ERA and 1.40 WHIP across 19.1 innings, but isn't worth consideration in most formats.
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2016
 
 
-5%
BAA vs RHP
2018
No Stats
2017
 
 
-13%
BAA vs RHP
2016
 
 
-6%
BAA vs LHP
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2016vs Left .241 183 41 20 39 8 1 5
Since 2016vs Right .229 327 78 19 69 11 2 12
2018vs Left 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2018vs Right 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2017vs Left .323 72 13 6 21 7 1 3
2017vs Right .281 123 26 7 32 2 1 7
2016vs Left .186 111 28 14 18 1 0 2
2016vs Right .198 204 52 12 37 9 1 5
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2016
 
 
-4%
ERA at Home
2018
No Stats
2017
 
 
-1%
ERA on Road
2016
 
 
-15%
ERA at Home
ERA WHIP IP W L SV K/9 BB/9 HR/9
Since 2016Home 3.55 1.22 63.1 4 3 0 9.1 2.6 1.1
Since 2016Away 3.69 1.15 60.0 5 3 0 8.1 3.1 1.3
2018Home 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2018Away 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2017Home 5.70 1.52 23.2 0 3 0 7.6 2.7 2.3
2017Away 5.66 1.45 20.2 2 1 0 8.3 2.6 1.7
2016Home 2.27 1.03 39.2 4 0 0 10.0 2.5 0.5
2016Away 2.68 0.99 40.1 3 2 0 8.0 3.3 1.1
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
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Two years ago, Blanton was retired and seemed destined to be remembered as a mediocre starter. But then he signed a minor league deal with the Royals, put up a solid year of relief work in 2015 and had an even better season in 2016. He took over setup duties for the Dodgers last season and put up a 2.48 ERA over 80 innings while striking out a batter per inning. At the center of his renaissance was heavy usage of a slider that had turned into one of the better pitches in baseball, which helped compensate for his low-90s heat. He might have difficulty replicating his 2016 season, as he had a .240 BABIP (62 points below his career average) and saw a big decline in groundball rate, but there's no denying Blanton has reinvented himself for the better. He figures to see plenty of work again in 2017.
Blanton had already retired last winter when neighbor Zach Duke asked him to play catch. The righty said he felt better than he had in years and ended up making an amazing comeback in 2015. He began the season with Kansas City (3.59 ERA in 41.2 IP) but became expendable to the pitching-rich Royals. For Pittsburgh, Blanton went 5-0 with a 1.57 ERA and 39:9 K:BB ratio in 34.1 frames, as renowned pitching coach Ray Searage once again played Dr. Frankenstein. If the 35-year-old Blanton decides to come back for another season, he will presumably slot into the middle of some team's bullpen, but there’s little reason to chase last year’s feel-good story in fantasy leagues.
Blaton decided to retire before the 2014 season, but changed his mind in spring 2015 and signed a minor league contract with the Royals. He had a terrible 2013 season, so he'll need to prove himself at Triple-A.
There isn't much to be said for Blanton's 2013 season, as a remarkably high HR/9 rate (1.97) led to a sky-high ERA (6.04). Although problems with the long ball resulted in his removal from the rotation in late July, the lack of back-end options for the Angels in 2014 means that he could be in contention for a rotation spot again in spring training. This development could make Blanton worth a look in 2014, as his xFIP (3.84) and abnormally high BABIP (.346) show some rebound potential. Unfortunately, that potential is negated by his rapidly diminishing skills. His long-standing pattern of giving up more hits than innings pitched may once again make it difficult for him to keep his ERA at an acceptable level.
Blanton was traded from Philadelphia to Los Angeles in August, where he provided 10 starts of 4.99 ERA ball. Overall, what stands out about his season are solid ratios (7.8 K/9, 1.6 BB/9) and a whopping 29 home runs allowed. Blanton's control is admirable, but in addition to the home runs, he's allowed more hits than innings pitched in each of the last seven seasons. After signing a two-year deal with the Angels in December, Blanton is worth taking a chance on in deeper formats given the defense behind him and pitcher-friendly home park, but do not be surprised if his strikeout rate slips with the move back to the AL.
Blanton was a major disappointment for anyone that took a chance on him last season. Always a reliable innings eater, Blanton finally succumbed to an arm injury that sidelined him for the majority of last season. When he finally returned, the Phillies used him in a relief role where he looked good in limited action. Blanton has never been a dominant pitcher, posting strikeout rates that are solid but not spectacular while keeping his walk rate at an acceptable level. Don't expect to see anything new from him this season. If he can stay healthy, he'll go every fifth day on a very good team making him a decent bet for double-digit wins.
Looking at surface numbers alone it would appear that Blanton took a bit of a step back last season. His ERA rose nearly a full run to 4.82 but his FIP of 4.43 indicates he was essentially the same pitcher we saw in 2009. Blanton does not do a lot to help fantasy owners as his strikeout rate is average, and he tends to give up a lot of hits, which takes a toll on your WHIP. Blanton does have solid control, however, and can help your team with wins when he is pitching well. The key is figuring out when to start him and when to keep him on your bench - something that is easier said than done and now his future with the Phillies is in doubt following the re-acquisition of Cliff Lee.
Blanton put together one of the better seasons of his career with the Phillies in 2009. His 7.5 K/9IP was the highest of his career and his walk rate dropped closer to his career average as well. Like many of the Phillies' starters, he also saw an increase in his home runs allowed and posted the highest home-run rate of his career (1.38 HR/9IP). We expect that ratio to decrease a bit this year and if Blanton can maintain the gains he made in his strikeout rate, he could be in line for a breakout year. If he can't, Blanton becomes a situational starter for most NL-only leagues and not worth paying attention to in shallow mixed leagues.
Blanton, who experienced significant struggles in the first half of the 2008 season with Oakland, was better in the second half of the year after he was dealt to Philadelphia, though he still did not live up to the potential that he flashed in his successful 2007 campaign. Blanton finished his second-half stint with Philadelphia with a 4-0 record, 4.20 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and 49 strikeouts in 70.2 innings in his 13 starts with the team. While those numbers aren't jaw-dropping, he should enter the 2009 season as Philadelphia's No. 4 or 5 starter, though the Phillies have arms to take his place if he's much less effective than he was in 2008. Still, he could be worth a late-round flyer for his potential to win 15 games if he sticks in the rotation, and he has the ceiling to reach 18-plus wins with Philadelphia's powerful lineup as support if he can regain his 2007 form.
Blanton's gaudy win totals (30 combined the past two years) aren't backed up by great peripherals, but he made tremendous strides in that respect in 2007. He showed marked improvement in both K/9IP and K/BB (3.5 K/BB after 1.73 and 1.84 the past two years), though he struggled a bit after the All-Star break. If the improved control is legit, he'll continue to be a nice fantasy option.
Blanton failed to build upon his second half success from 2005, allowing a whopping 241 hits and 58 walks in 194.1 innings. His control has never been great, and he doesn't strike out many either, so there's some reason for concern here. There's not much here under the covers either that point to a turnaround.
That Blanton sported a 13.25 ERA in May gives an idea of his dominance over the remainder of the season. He lacks the strikeouts of fellow starter Rich Harden, but his post-break numbers (2.65 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 69 K in 102 IP) are more than enough to earn him a spot among the AL elites.
Blanton sported an excellent 143/34 K/BB ratio in 176 1/3 innings at Triple-A Sacramento before appearing in three games for the A's down the stretch. Oakland's top pitching prospect will be counted on for a spot at the top of the rotation after the trades of Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson. A Rich Harden-like season of double-digit wins, a decent ERA and good strikeout totals awaits if he can make 30 starts.
One of Billy Beane's Moneyball picks from the 2002 amateur draft. Blanton is next in line among A's pitching prospects now that Rich Harden is in the majors. He was solid in seven games at Double-A after tearing through Single-A. Mike Wood, John Rheinecker and Justin Duchscherer figure to have the early advantage on taking over as the A's fifth starter this spring following the trade of Ted Lilly, but Blanton could follow a Harden-like pattern and reach the majors by mid-season. His upside is considerably higher than the aforementioned A's farmhands.
More Fantasy News
Season struggles continue
PWashington Nationals  
July 13, 2017
Blanton has a 7.36 ERA and 1.64 WHIP with 17 strikeouts across 22 innings this season.
ANALYSIS
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Activated from DL
PWashington Nationals  
June 11, 2017
Blanton (shoulder) was activated from the 10-day disabled list Sunday, Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post reports.
ANALYSIS
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Roughly one week from return
PWashington Nationals  
Shoulder
June 9, 2017
Blanton (shoulder) will need to pitch in back-to-back games prior to returning to full action, Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post reports.
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Gearing up for rehab assignment
PWashington Nationals  
Shoulder
June 8, 2017
Blanton (shoulder) is scheduled to begin a minor-league rehab assignment with Double-A Harrisburg on Thursday, Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post reports.
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Returns to mound Wednesday
PWashington Nationals  
Shoulder
May 31, 2017
Blanton (shoulder) threw a bullpen session Wednesday, Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post reports.
ANALYSIS
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