"I've been here before," Blanton said. "Basically, I've thrown Game 4s in all my starts. It's nothing new."
Fans of recent Phillies history will recall that it was Blanton who started Game 4 of the World Series last season with the Yankees holding a 2-1 lead. He pitched fine, nothing spectacular, nothing awful - the same six innings/four runs that will be chiseled into his career tombstone - but it turned out not to be enough.
Manager Charlie Manuel chose not to shorten his rotation and pitch Cliff Lee in that Game 4, and with good reason. Somewhere along the way, he was going to have to throw Pedro Martinez again, and, well, it wasn't as if he had three aces to line up against the Yankees if he skipped Blanton.
The 2010 postseason is a slightly different story. For one thing, the Phillies have reached their crisis moment in the league championship series rather than the World Series. For another, they do have three aces to line up against the Giants if Blanton were bypassed.
Nevertheless, it will be Joe Blanton on Wednesday and there will be no room for second-guessing the decision. So, let's go ahead and first-guess the thing: Roy Halladay should be pitching.
The decision is whether to use a guy on three days' rest or three weeks' rest, with the first guy being the probable Cy Young Award winner and the other being your fourth-best starter. While it isn't quite an elimination game, it's pretty close. Still, the Phillies seem sure of themselves.
"I don't see no use in discussing it," Manuel said. "The way I look at it, Joe's going to have to pitch eventually if we're going to win four games. That's how I see it."
That's not necessarily true, although Halladay would have to come back again on three days' rest if the series went seven games. And if the Phillies are playing to win the World Series, not just the league championship series, then overtaxing their rotation in this round could provide little more than a Pyrrhic victory.
All those are legitimate arguments, but the strongest argument is that the season rests on the outcome of Wednesday's game and throwing Roy Halladay sounds an awful lot better. Win that one and let Thursday, Saturday and Sunday fend for themselves.
"We think this is the way to go," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "If Halladay were to pitch [Game 4], then either [Roy] Oswalt and [Cole] Hamels would have to go on short rest or Joe Blanton would have to pitch somewhere. So, why not now?"
The argument for Blanton includes the fact that he was very effective in the final months of the season, going 6-0 after July 21 and taking more than a full run off his earned run average after that point. He also had an effective start against the Giants in Citizens Bank Park on Aug. 18, giving up two runs in eight innings, with no walks and seven strikeouts.
"Joe's good enough to pitch," Dubee said. "Don't slight this guy. And the downside [of skipping Blanton] is that Halladay is coming up on his career high for innings pitched and Cole's never [pitched on three days' rest] before. There's your downside. And any time you move guys up, you're taking them out of a routine that's pretty solid."
As said before, all very legitimate and reasonable. Good, solid baseball. If Halladay were to pitch in Game 4 and lose, the Phils would be criticized for panicking. If Blanton wins today, they are tied in the series and have their Big Three lined up on normal rest.
That's a big "if" and this is a big spot. We'll see if Blanton, who has been in this situation before, has learned how to master it. If so, the Phillies are looking good. If not, they are all but finished.
Makes for a tough decision, either way. You can't blame the Phils for the one they have made, although you are allowed to disagree. That's the beauty of baseball.
Joe Blanton will settle the argument in the chill San Francisco evening and then everyone will have to live with the answer.
Contact columnist Bob Ford at 215-854-5842 or email@example.com.
Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/bobford.