It's Nationals Blogger Night with MASN at Nationals Park! I'm not sure what exactly the deal is, but myself and a 'select' group of Nationals bloggers are being hosted by our good friends at MASN at Nationals Park. Thanks Kristen!
Check out my preview of the series here for breakdowns on the Philly hitters and bullpen. Here's my look at the Phillies' starter for game 2 and prediction.
On the Mound
Joe Blanton: Flags fly forever, so you can't really criticize, but you never really want to trade for a pitcher with Billy Beane do you? Last fall, desperate for a fourth starter not named Kendrick or Eaton, the Phils flipped 2 of their top 4 Baseball America prospects (second baseman Adrian Cardenas and left-handed pitcher Josh Outman) plus another guy for Joe Blanton, the epitome of the mediocre back-end starter. He has value, but I just don't think he's the guy I'd want my team to empty the top ranks of the minors for. If those prospects pan out, Beane is going to look like a genius (again).
Blanton's selling points are that he eats innings and never misses a start. He throws a fastball (89 mph), change, curve, and slider. He doesn't strike out very many (12.3%, vs. 16% league average) and across the board is just average, other than the durability (821.1 IP over the last four seasons).
The numbers that would give me the most pause if I was a Phillies fan are the 6.8% and 6.5% HR/FB ratios he posted in 2006 and 2007 in Oakland. Even if Blanton doesn't do anything different, those numbers could easily double in Philly (league average is 11%) and balloon his ERA by a run or more.
Season record: 6-1
The Nationals should score off Blanton, but until this team shows some ability to get people out, I don't see how they win. If Martis's change-up is really working, he'll have a chance to get through this Phillies line-up without too much damage. But if he's having any command problems at all the champs are going to abuse him. Shairon's command was much improved in the spring, hence his promotion, but the reality is that his career BB/9 is still just a hair below 5, and I'm a long way from deciding that his command isn't more of a liability than a strength. I'll predict a 7-5 Phillies win, but there's definitely hope that those numbers could be reversed.