New Dodgers pitcher Joe Blanton, acquired from the Phillies on Friday,… (Jeff Roberson / Associated…)
Joe Blanton will make his first start for the Dodgers on Sunday, when he takes the mound for the series finale against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium.
Blanton was acquired by the Dodgers on Friday from the Philadelphia Phillies in the second midseason trade of his career. In the first, in 2008, he moved from the Oakland Athletics to the Phillies. The Phillies won the World Series that year.
"Hopefully, history will repeat itself for me," Blanton said.
He has recently found his form, averaging 72/3 innings over his last three starts. He was scheduled to start on Friday for the Phillies until he was traded to the Dodgers for a player to be named later.
He had to overcome a midseason slump. In the five starts he made from May 19 to June 8, Blanton was 1-3 with a 9.91 earned-run average.
"I had a little mechanical flaw I couldn't figure out," he said. "It took me a little bit longer to fix it. It lasted a month or so. I feel I straightened it out."
Blanton thinks he lost a feel for pitching while sitting out most of last season because of nerve problems in his elbow. He was limited to 11 appearances in 2011, including eight starts.
"My hands weren't really getting separated on time," Blanton said. "I was rushing to the plate too quick. I was leaving a lot of pitches up in the zone and over the plate. I felt that was the reason for a lot of the home runs I was giving up."
Blanton has given up 22 home runs, tied for most in the National League.
Over a major league career spanning nine seasons, the 31-year-old Blanton is 81-71 with a 4.35 ERA.
Blanton is surrounded by familiar faces in the Dodgers clubhouse.
Shane Victorino was acquired from the Phillies three days before he was. First base coach Davey Lopes is a former Phillies coach. Blanton and second baseman Mark Ellis were teammates in Oakland from 2005 to 2008.
Blanton and his wife are expecting their third child in the first week of October. The regular season ends on Oct. 3.
What would Blanton do if he is forced to choose between making a crucial start and attending the birth of his child?
"That's a situation that will come up when it comes up," he said. "We'll do it in California, so it won't be far away."
Manager Don Mattingly joked: "We could do it right here."
With Blanton starting, previously-scheduled Sunday starter Aaron Harang will be pushed back to Tuesday. Chris Capuano remains scheduled to pitch on Monday in the series opener against the Colorado Rockies.
Mattingly wanted to give extra rest to Harang, who will be pitching on seven days' rest. He pitched well in the extreme heat and humidity in St. Louis on July 25 and Mattingly wondered if that might have affected him in his next turn. Harang was charged with seven runs and nine hits in five innings in a loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday.
To clear room on the active roster for Blanton, the Dodgers optioned rookie starting pitcher Stephen Fife to triple-A Albuquerque.