Blanton Lined Up For Game 4

From Brian Costa:

The Yankees won’t have to face Cliff Lee again until Game 5 of the World Series. The Phillies named Joe Blanton their Game 4 starter Friday, opting to use a fourth starter rather than bring Lee back on short rest.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he was reluctant to have Lee pitch on just three days’ rest because he has never done it before in the majors.
“I don’t think he’s ready to go on three days’ rest,” Manuel said before the Phillies worked out at Citizens Bank Park. “That would be really pushing it, because he’s never done it before.”
Blanton, a right-hander, was 12-8 with a 4.05 ERA during the regular season. He has a 4.50 ERA in three appearances (one start) this postseason.

Blanton is not a terrible starter at all, and has some experience with American league lineups. He has terrible career numbers against the Yankees (8.18 ERA), but those represent a very small sample and are skewed by one awful start. That being said, I think Manuel is making a mistake here. Not only does this give the Yankees a major advantage in Game 4, it gives them the upper hand for a possible game 7. Game 5 would be Lee’s last start of the series, meaning the Yankees would get to face Pedro Martinez and Cole Hamels at home. While neither of those pitchers are slouches, they are most certainly not Cliff Lee. This is how it is likely to play out, assuming the Yankees use only three starters, courtesy of Rob Neyer:

Game 3: Pettitte vs. Hamels (advantage: Yankees)
Game 4: Sabathia vs. Blanton (Yankees)
Game 5: Burnett vs. Lee (Phillies)
Game 6: Pettitte vs. Martinez or Happ (Yankees)
Game 7: Sabathia vs. Hamels (Yankees)

If the Yankees happen to take Games 3 and 4, you might see Chad Gaudin in Game 5, with Game 6 going to Burnett and Game 7 to Sabathia, with Pettitte available in relief for both of those games.

I understand that Manuel is worried about wasting his greatest asset by using him in a manner that may sap his effectiveness. However, he is creating a situation where the Yankees can lose to Lee and even once to Hamels and still win the series. He would be better served by using Lee in Games 4 and 7, and pitching Blanton in Game 5 and Hamels/Martinez in Game 6. The Yankees just caught a break.

0 thoughts on “Blanton Lined Up For Game 4

  1. To me this is the light at the end of the tunnel the Yankees needed, you can win this series now and it doesn’t matter that you dropped game 1. CC shouldn’t lose 2 games in one series and he doesn’t have to match up with Cliff Lee again so he gets the advantage in every match up, conversely by not pitching Le on short rest you open up the option for the Yankees to pitch Gaudin in game 5 and still not be down in the series going to New York. This move may be the undoing for the Phillies, there is no guarantee Lee would have been effective but he is better than Blanton’s 8+ ERA against the Yankees.

  2. Not only are the numbers skewed, but the bad outing came one week after the Yanks had just faced him, in his rookie season. A true outlier if there ever was one.

    Here are the boxscores:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA200505070.shtml
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/OAK/OAK200505140.shtml
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/OAK/OAK200704140.shtml
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/OAK/OAK200806120.shtml

    That’s not to say he’s been great against the Yanks, a typical outing would be 6-7 IP and 3-4 runs. But the 8+ ERA is misleading.

  3. Tom Gaffney

    I think that part of the reason is that CC is really built for 3 days rest and Lee, we’re not really sure about. Manuel probably figured that the matchup clearly favored CC, especially after Lee threw 120 pitches Wednesday. He probably loves the Lee Burnett (on short rest) matchup as well.

    • Since Lee has never gone on short rest I don’t think it’s smart to make his first start on 3 days in the World series against CC, you are just asking for trouble and risking an unnecessary loss with your ace. The way it’s set up games 4 & 5 should be predetermined… CC Vs Blanton should be a CC victory and Gaudin Vs Lee in game 5 should be a Lee victory. Therefor tonight’s game and game 6 will be the most important for the Yankees in terms of locking this up before having to go 2 short rest starts with CC.