During a high-end Rotisserie baseball draft held at the Bellagio in Las Vegas right before the start of the season, a lucky owner grabbed Roy Halladay at the end of Round Two.
That same owner took Joe Blanton during the last round, to which another owner said, “You just nullified your Halladay bargain.”
So far those words are holding true.
While Halladay is 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA, Blanton is 0-1 with a team-high 10.45 ERA in two starts spanning 10 1/3 innings. He’s allowed 17 hits.
It’s because of Blanton, Philadelphia’s No. 5 starter, who keeps the Phillies’ rotation of Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt from being called the greatest ever by some.
Blanton will try to temporarily silence his critics when he takes the mound Monday at 4 p.m. PT as the Phillies begin a three-game homestand versus the Milwaukee Brewers. The 30-year-old right-hander probably is going to have to pitch well to win because Milwaukee is going with Shaun Marcum, who is 2-1 with a 2.55 ERA.
Marcum pitched for Toronto the last five years before coming to Milwaukee in an offseason trade. The 29-year-old righty was 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA and 1.15 WHIP last season while making 14 of his 31 starts against AL East Division opponents.
Marcum rebounded from a bad first start against Cincinnati to hold Atlanta and Pittsburgh to a combined two earned runs in 13 innings. He shut out the Pirates in seven innings this past Wednesday winning, 6-0, as a 115 road favorite against Kevin Correia. The combined six runs went ‘under’ the 7 ½-run total.
Marcum has faced the Phillies during interleague play going 2-0 versus them with a 3.46 ERA in 13 career innings.
Left fielder Ryan Braun has been hot for the Brewers. He was riding a nine-game hitting streak through Saturday.
Through their first 13 games, the Phillies had yet to lose consecutive times. However, the Phillies were batting just .218 while averaging 3.4 runs in their last five games entering Sunday.
Philadelphia defeated Milwaukee in five of six games last season going 2-1 at home. Blanton went up against the Brewers last May 15 as a 110 road favorite against Chris Narveson and picked up the win in a 10-6 victory.
Blanton won despite giving up three homers and five earned runs in seven innings. He has surrendered 57 home runs the last two years while posting ERA’s of 4.82 last year and 4.05 in 2009.
Philadelphia pitching coach Rich Dubee said Blanton’s problems this year are a matter of location. Blanton has allowed two homers this season. Blanton does have 10 strikeouts.
The Phillies are showing early confidence in Blanton as they could have skipped his spot in the rotation because of a rainout this past Saturday, although Roy Oswalt’s back injury in his last start may have factored, too, in the decision.
The Brewers went into their Sunday doubleheader against Washington having won five of the past six times when facing a right-handed starter.
Milwaukee had dropped six of its last eight road games, however. The Brewers return home on Friday to host Houston. They are idle on Thursday.
The Phillies begin a seven-game West Coast trip with a Thursday game against San Diego. After four games with the Padres, the Phillies travel to Arizona for a three-game series with the Diamondbacks.
The Phillies are 48-19 in their last 67 games against right-handers.
Both Milwaukee and Philadelphia had gone ‘under’ in four of their last five games before Saturday.
The early weather forecast for Monday’s game is temperatures in the high 50s with a slight breeze blowing out to right field and a 30 percent chance of rain.