The Dodgers are still in the postseason thanks in part to the renaissance of Joe Blanton
The Dodgers needed to win Game 4 of the NLDS to keep their playoff hopes alive. Those hopes were starting to look shaky in the seventh, though. When
With a runner at third and those same two outs still on the board, the 35-year-old Blanton came on to try and preserve the game. The former starter proceeded to strike out
Blanton would pitch the next inning, too, shutting down the Nationals in order. Thanks to a
It's the same thing he had done all series. He entered in Game 1 to pitch 2/3 shutout innings. With the Dodgers bullpen needing to soak up some serious innings in Game 3 after
This is not what you would would have expected just a few years ago. In fact, Blanton even being on a Major League team in anything other than a coaching role seemed impossible. In 2013, Blanton posted a 6.04 ERA with the Angels, giving up an astonishing 180 hits and 29 HR in 132 2/3 IP.
The goateed hurler then retired, sitting out nearly all of the 2014 season. Given that he was always more of a back-of-the-rotation innings-eater even at the height of his career, most assumed his career was over. The next time you'd see him in a TV broadcast would likely be as the answer to a trivia question.
But then he came back. After working out in the offseason with
Instead, Blanton would be in the Majors by May and, as if he had entered those cocoons in "Cocoon," was a brand new pitcher. Unlike other starters who were sent to the 'pen, Blanton found success not by suddenly throwing mid-90s fastballs, but by throwing endless sliders and lowering his armslot:
He also presumably found success by staring at batters until they were too uncomfortable to hit:
It makes sense that his comeback was engineered first with the Royals, who turned
Signing with the Dodgers before this season, Blanton somehow doubled down on his improvements. He cut his 91-mph fastball usage to just 30 percent, something almost no relievers do. And only six pitchers threw their slider more.
It worked. Batters hit just .194 and Blanton had the lowest ERA in the Dodgers bullpen this side of
He would go with the dangerous barehand when needed:
He would wriggle out jams:
Basically, when the Dodgers needed a pitcher, Blanton was there.
On Tuesday, the Dodgers needed Blanton to keep their postseason hopes alive. And like the hero that he's been all season, he delivered again.
Tune in to see if