The Los Angeles Dodgers continued to add pieces for the stretch run, acquiring veteran right-hander Joe Blantonfrom the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash considerations on Friday. The move, of course, is only the latest in a string of trades for the Dodgers who look to break a two-year playoff drought.
Adding Blanton, 31, not only provides depth and insurance, but also could prove to be one of the more underrated moves made this season.
Blanton, despite a below-average ERA this season (4.59), has pitched considerably better, posting the sixteenth best Skill-Independent ERA (SIERA) this season, at 3.37, topping Matt Cain, Jake Peavy, and A.J. Burnett among others.
After an injury-marred 2011, Blanton’s rebounded to post the highest strikeout rate of his career – 7.76 K/9 – to go along with his trademark command (1.22 BB/9). He’s also been a bit unlucky, showing a 15.7% HR/FB rate, 5.5 percentage points higher than his career average. Otherwise, his other underlying numbers – BABIP, GB%, and FB% – are all reasonably close to his norms. Plus, he leaves Philadelphia, home to the ninth highest homerun park factor, and heads to Los Angeles, the eighteenth highest.
For the simple cost of $3million or so – Blanton’s remaining salary – plus a negligible prospect and/or small amount of added cash, the Dodgers acquired what could be the second-best pitcher on the rotation; his SIERA is just four points behind ace Clayton Kershaw’s. In terms of wins, his addition likely means between half and one full win for the Dodgers.
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