Thursday, September 18, 2014
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Blanton in Game 4 the right move

Why Joe Blanton makes sense as the Game 4 starter.

Blanton in Game 4 the right move



There is no question that Joe Blanton should be the Phillies' starter in Game 4. None.

To do anything else would not just signal a whiff of panic on the part of Phils manager Charlie Manuel, but an overwhelming stench. Starting Blanton here is a confident move made by a confident team. To perform rotational gymnastics at this point in a playoff series would be the prelude to a Heimlich.

The other options, presumably, would be either Cole Hamels or J.A. Happ. We can all agree that Happ makes no sense whatsoever, right? He is a kid, and throwing a kid into the cauldron would be crazy if you didn't have to do it. Miller Park during Game 3 was not ears-bleeding loud but  it was pretty active and potentially intimidating. Again, a rookie here really doesn't figure into any sane calculus.

Which leaves Hamels. He has not pitched on three days' rest all season. He has thrown more than 230 innings now in the regular season and the playoffs. There is no reason to push it. Blanton has pitched well enough and the team has played well behind him. Yes, he is the fourth starter -- but Milwaukee's Jeff Suppan isn't Cy Young, either. This is likely to be a day decided by the bats. It is what happens to everyone as you get to this point in a series.

If the Phillies were to lose, they'd have Hamels on five days' rest and completely ready for Game 5 against CC Sabathia -- which would be scary, granted, but a lot less scary than if they were to throw Hamels into Game 4 and see him implode because you were asking him to do something he hadn't done all year.

Anyway, Manuel said after the game, "I've got confidence in (Blanton). He has a chance to throw a good game. I've seen him this year throw about three or four good games. If he's getting his (pitches) down in the strike zone early in the game, he's capable of pitching a real good ballgame. I think he'll be OK."

As for Hamels and three days' rest, Manuel said, "From where Hamels has been all year and where he's at, that's pretty tough for us. That's kind of hard for us to do."

And as for Blanton, he said, "You know, I've been mentally prepared the whole time. I just looked at it as, I feel like the only way you could look at it is there was going to be a game. I felt like if I looked at it any other way I wouldn't be physically or mentally ready. So I just went through the whole process. I've been ready for this game."

We'll see. Clearly, nothing is an automatic. But giving Blanton the ball here really is the right way to go.

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
About this blog
Rich Hofmann arrived at the Daily News in 1980 for a job whose status was officially designated as "full-time, temporary." A senior at Penn at the time, he was hired to fill in on the copy desk during a staff illness. The notion of him covering the Eagles or being a columnist did not exist in anyone's imagination. It was supposed to be six weeks and out, but he never left. It is only one of the reasons why so many people have concerns about him as a potential house guest. Rich has blogged the postseasons of the Flyers and Eagles. E-mail Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com Reach Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com.

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
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