Joe Blanton has been a non-factor in Philly's season, but don't overlook the righty as a significant contributor next season.
Blanton has only completed 35 1/3 innings this season, posting a 5.35 ERA in six starts and one relief appearance (which came Monday) thanks to right elbow inflammation that has kept him out much of the year. However, Blanton was an effective back-of-the-rotation starter for the Phillies last season and could be asked to fill a similar role in 2012. Roy Oswalt's pricey team option for $16 million is likely to be exercised given the righty's struggles to stay on a mound this year with back issues, as well as whispers of Oswalt retiring. If that's the case, the Phillies could slide Blanton -- who has $8.5 million due him in 2012, the final year of a three-year deal -- into the No. 5 spot behind Vance Worley.
Blanton hasn't decided whether he will undergo surgery or not, the Philadelphia Inquirer writes, but there is still time to decide. In the meantime, Blanton will continue pitching in Florida instructionals in October while the team is trying to win a World Series. How he performs pitching will determine whether he has surgery or not. Doctors say Tommy John surgery is not needed, but could require a nerve procedure that could knock him out for six months, so a decision is needed by the end of October.
"I need to know for me," Blanton said. "I need to know for our organization, for everybody. I don't need to show up next year and all of a sudden I'm hurt again and we're back where we were."
Blanton's relief appearance marked a return to the majors after a 121-day absence, clocking an average fastball velocity of 91 mph, a spike from 87 mph in May.
"I was happy with that," Blanton said. "It was almost like the first or second game of spring training because I threw basically one bullpen and one rehab game. Every player will tell you the more you throw your velocity will build and build."For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.