The Angels free agent signings this year have performed, well, badly. Sean Burnett is on the DL for the 37th time, Josh Hamilton isn’t hitting his weight (225 lbs., .220 BA) and Ryan Madson may or may not exist. Burnett has at least performed well when healthy, and Hamilton is hitting .421 over his last five games, so there is reason to hope. But I would temper it for the time being.
Another free agent signing who has been a complete letdown, is Joe Blanton. Coming into June, Blanton had a 5.94 ERA and was consistently being talked about as the Angels starter that needed to be removed from the rotation because of bad performance. That includes me. Because Blanton was terrible. Then June happened.
It’s not Cy Young stuff, but it is sexy when compared to his performance from previous months. Joe’s June (sounds like a hit song title) was highlighted by his 0.912 WHIP and a SO/BB ratio of 8.00 (40 K’s, 5 B’s. 5!). Joe Blanton has pitched this month they way he was expected to pitch, strike out a few guys, walk nearly no one, give up some runs and eat innings. He was expected to be a LAIM (League Average Innings Muncher), and he finally was in June. And not a moment too soon, either.
The Angels still aren’t getting any kind of consistency from their rotation. Jered Weaver had a good start in Detroit, but who is to say that that will be the norm? His terrible first-pitch strike percentage and diminished velocity are still causes for concern (although he did hump it up to 89 a couple of times in his last start. Probably PED’s). C.J. Wilson is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jason Vargas has a blood clot issue (which everyone knows about by now), and Tommy Hanson finally made his scheduled trip to the disabled list to refasten the rubber bands in his right arm. Joe can’t afford to be bad now. He couldn’t technically afford to be bad before, but he really can’t afford to be bad now.
The real question concerning the rotation now is: “Who is the starter taking Hanson’s place?” But I just got rid of my headache so I’m not even going to try and wrap my head around that one (Hopefully Billy Buckner, because Barry Enright was teh most suck EVER!). But that’s a whole different blog post that I don’t have enough Advil for.
Joe Blanton had value coming into this season. It was value in the way that Jon Garland had value, but it was value nonetheless. He’s still worth -0.3 bWAR (baseball-reference WAR), but if he had kept pitching like April, it could have been a lot worse. Just thinking out loud onto my keyboard here, but, maybe Joe has performed better because he took off a lot of that hideous chin goatee thing he has going on. Maybe? Guys? What? It makes sense, and there could be a correlation, you just need to think outside the box here.
The Angels are starting to catch that same groove they had during their eight game winning streak back in May. During that stretch, only twice did the pitching staff give up more than two runs to an opponent. The offense isn’t going to be there every night, so this patchwork pitching staff is going to do have to do it’s job too. Joe Blanton pitching like his peripherals suggest he can pitch, is a good start. It just woudn’t be a good time for his numbers to do the July slide that his splits suggest will happen.