Because of the drawn-out nature of the playoffs and all the extra off days the Phillies headed into the postseason knowing they would only need to use a fourth starter twice, at most.
Game 4 of the NLDS is one of those times, and manager Charlie Manuel announced today that Joe Blanton will get the nod.
Game 1: Roy Halladay
Game 2: Roy Oswalt
Game 3: Cole Hamels
Game 4: Joe Blanton
Game 5: Roy Halladay
Game 6: Roy Oswalt
Game 7: Cole Hamels
Manuel left open the possibility that he could skip Blanton if the Phillies were down 0-3 or 1-2 going into Game 4, but that would involve short-rest starts and he’s shown a hesitancy to do that in the past regardless of the pitcher.
Blanton hasn’t started a game since September 29 and he’s obviously not in the same class as Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels, which has a certain segment of the Phillies fan base fretting about having to actually use someone other than The Big Three in a playoff game.
However, he went 6-1 with a 3.48 ERA in 15 starts after the All-Star break, including beating the Giants with a solid outing in mid-August, and is 2-0 with a 3.89 ERA in 35 career playoff innings. Assuming he eventually wakes up from this nap, the Phillies will be just fine having to use a non-ace once in a seven-game series.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins say minor league pitcher Yorman Landa has died in Venezuela. He was 22.
The club said in a statement that the Twins are “deeply saddened by the heartbreaking loss.” The team did not say how he died.
Landa pitched in the 2016 season with the Fort Meyers Miracle, going 2-2 with 7 saves and a 3.24 ERA in 41 2/3 innings pitched. His career minor-league ERA was 2.66.
Landa had been on the Twins’ 40-man roster, but was dropped after the season. The organization signed him to a minor-league contract last week.
Landa was signed by the Twins in 2010 as a 16-year old from Santa Teresa, Venezuela.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.