Game 99 open thread: Blanton and Broomsticks

Joe Blanton has pitched better as of late but still has a 6.03 ERA. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Get this: If the Phillies win today, they will have a five-game winning streak. The last time they had a five-game winning streak? The first week of the season when everything felt oh-so-cheery.

Hard to believe, right?

"No, not really," mused manager Charlie Manuel this morning.

Consistency has eluded this Phillies team. That can especially be said of righthander Joe Blanton, who makes his 16th start of the season. Among National League pitchers with at least 80 innings pitched, Blanton's 6.03 ERA ranks as the worst.

Yet the Phillies feel as if Blanton has pitched better and isn't far from turning the corner with quality results. The fact remains Blanton has yet to start a game this season and allow fewer than three runs. In the month of July, he has a 5.61 ERA. Progress?

Blanton has gone more than a month since winning his last game. His strikeout rate is well off last season's 7.51 per nine innings, a career-high. But his 5.94 K/9 in 2010 is above his career rate. His groundball-flyball ratios are similar between 2009 and 2010. His line drive percentage is actually down in 2010.

So a lot of it has been about location (and perhaps luck). Blanton's offspeed pitches -- slider and changeup -- have been decidedly less effective than in 2009. Watch for that today.

Chat about the game here. Follow me on Twitter (@magelb) for updates.