Joe Blanton landed on the DL this afternoon with right shoulder inflammation. Matt Grace was called back up again to take his spot in the bullpen.
Washington signed Blanton to a 1-year/$4M deal coming off a solid season in relief for the LA Dodgers which saw the veteran righty put up a 2.48 ERA and a 3.33 FIP, while he gave up seven home runs in 80 innings pitched.
Through 12 1⁄3 innings pitched out of the Nationals’ bullpen, the 36-year-old right-hander has a 9.49 ERA, an 8.62 FIP and six home runs allowed.
His walk totals (4 BB, 2.92 BB/9) and K totals (12, 8.76 K/9) are in line with what he put up last season (2.93 BB/9, 9.00 K/9), but he currently has a .348 BABIP against (up from .240 in 2016) and opposing hitters have a .300 AVG on his slider (up from .176 BAA) and a .429 AVG on his fastball (up from .190 last season).
Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo, in talking about his bullpen on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies last week, suggested he thought his relievers would turn things around.
“I’ve got to trust the track record and the stuff and past performance of these guys to believe that there are better days coming,” Rizzo said.
“Do you trust Joe Blanton’s 80 games with a 2.58 ERA last season or his 12 games with a 9.75?”
Blanton lowered that ERA slightly with his last appearance out of the pen against the Philadelphia Phillies last weekend, but now he’s headed to the DL.
Was the shoulder behind his struggles early this season? Will the right-hander bounce back and look more like he did with the Dodgers once he returned? Or has time caught up to the 36-year-old starter-turned-reliever?