Big Joe was the fifth-man in one of the greatest rotations of all-time, joining Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt. The rotation was always the five men, never a single guy or the four aces. Even in photoshoots focused around the four aces, they insisted Blanton be a part of it.
A first-round pick of the Athletics out of the University of Kentucky in 2002, Blanton won 42 games in his first three big league seasons and won double-digit games each year.
With Adam Eaton and Brett Myers struggling during the 2008 season, Pat Gillick traded three prospects to Oakland to acquire Blanton. On paper the move was puzzling considering Blanton was 5-12 with an ERA of nearly five. On the mound, Blanton would go 4-0 for Philadelphia in 13 regular season starts, and the team won nine of the games he appeared in.
Blanton made three strong starts in the postseason that year, allowing six earned runs and striking out 18 in 17 innings with a 3.18 ERA against Milwaukee, Los Angeles, and Tampa Bay.
Of course, Blanton will always be remembered for one postseason moment that wasn’t a start.
Blanton’s solo home run in the World Series sparked the club towards its first championship in 28 years.
The righty would pitch in parts of four seasons with Philadelphia following the championship, making 100 starts in his Phillies career with a 4.447 ERA.
Philadelphia would deal Blanton to Los Angeles in 2011 for pitching prospect Ryan O’Sullivan, who is no longer in the organization and never pitched beyond Double-A.
Blanton has since pitched for the Angels, Royals, Pirates, and Nationals as a starter and more recently a reliever with relative success.