The A's starters are finally down to their last starts of the spring. Today, Joe Blanton faces Juan Dominguez and the Rangers. Blanton has had an uneven spring leading to a 9.58 ERA and an 0-3 record. He's struck out 12 in 10.1 innings pitched but he's also walked seven and given up a whopping 17 hits.
Blanton has been one of my main concerns about this year. His K/9 last year turned out to be decent (5.19) and his batting average against was OK, but he appeared to do much of what he did with smoke and mirrors. His K/BB was only 1.73 (Haren's was 3.08, Zito's was 1.92 - but his K/9 was 6.74, Harden's was 2.81 and his K/9 was 8.51, Loaiza's was 3.15 and his K/9 was 7.18).
Blanton's BABIP was the second lowest on the A's starting staff at .252. Zito was first at .249, but he's shown an ability to have a low BABIP for several seasons now (Neyer and several others have speculated that because of the huge curve, it acts like a knuckleball in terms of keeping his BABIP low). Haren, on the other hand, had a .290 BABIP.
What does it all mean? It means to me that Blanton could be ripe for a regression or what some will likely be calling the "sophomore slump." Then again, when I was down at the A's complex a few weeks ago and talking with an A's member of the front office, he told me that Blanton pitches to contact unlike someone like Rich Harden. He wants to get the ball in play to let the defense behind him do the work. And maybe with a healthy year from Crosby, Ellis at 100 percent from day one and three centerfielders roaming the outfield, perhaps Blanton won't experience the back to earth phenomenon I'm fearing.
I hope not cause I love Cupcakes' demeanor on the mound and the A's can't really afford for him and/or Loaiza to go through a tough season.
LET'S GO A'S!!!