10/09/09 7:11 PM EST
Blanton puts his arm around the team
Bypassed for Game 3, maybe 4, winning is his first choice
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
It is understandable. But as the Phillies prepare to play the Colorado Rockies on Sunday night in Game 3 of the National League Division Series at Coors Field, Blanton still finds himself out of the rotation and in the bullpen.
People want to know how Blanton is handling his new role and what he thinks of it.
"As long as we win, I don't care," he said Friday.
Blanton went 12-8 with a 4.05 ERA in 31 starts this season, and 10-5 with a 3.16 ERA from May 26 through the end of the season. His ERA in that 23-start span ranked 17th out of 83 pitchers in baseball. But Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee have serious concerns about their bullpen, so they figure they could improve their chances of winning in the late innings with Blanton in the back of the bullpen.
Blanton is reserved, but Dubee has talked in the past about his competitiveness on the mound. His durability and competitiveness are traits that they feel will make him successful in the bullpen in the postseason.
"We feel like Joe Blanton's a horse," Manuel said. "Joe Blanton, he can do a lot of different things for us. He's a very durable guy, and he's a tough guy who can pitch a lot."
Blanton threw 19 pitches to five batters in relief in Thursday's 5-4 loss to the Rockies in Game 2, but he said he is ready to pitch Sunday if needed.
"It doesn't matter," he said, asked if he would be disappointed not to start. "We've got five capable pitchers to throw. I think any of us can throw as well as the other on any given day. The postseason is a little different. It's about winning. It's about winning the regular season, too, but in the postseason ... I think we've got 10 more wins left to achieve our goal for the year."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.