After several years apart, Jayson Werth and Joe Blanton are reunited in 2017. This time, they will represent the Washington Nationals in a championship quest. Previously, it was the Philadelphia Phillies for whom they played during the latter part of the last decade.
Both of these men have shared the championship parade festivities before. Werth and Blanton each played key roles in the Phillies’ championship run of 2008. Almost a decade later, they will attempt to do it again.
Back in 2008, Werth won the right field job in Philadelphia over veteran Geoff Jenkins thanks to consistent play throughout the year. The Phillies had intended to platoon the pair, but Werth outshined the more experienced Jenkins. This led to more starts and the beginning of Werth’s rise to prominence.
Meanwhile, Blanton came over in a trade with the Oakland Athletics and added depth to the rotation. While he was never an ace in Philadelphia, Blanton did give the Phillies a better chance to win when the fourth starter’s spot came up in the rotation.
In 2017, Werth and Blanton will again hope to end the year with a parade. This time, on the other end of their careers, expectations are different from the 2008 season.
Werth could once again see his playing time shared as the aging veteran has declined over the last two seasons. In particular, right-handed pitchers have regularly embarrassed him. The Nationals will still give him many opportunities to prove himself, thanks in part to the $21 million he’s owed for 2017.
Blanton’s role has been reduced to bullpen duties but it’s not necessarily a demotion. For the past two seasons, Blanton has been a very good relief arm. Last year he was especially valuable to the Los Angeles Dodgers as the primary setup man to closer Kenley Jansen.
The pair shared two more seasons together in Philadelphia after 2008. Werth left first via free agency when he signed with the Nationals prior to 2011. Blanton remained in Philadelphia until mid-2012 until he was traded to the Dodgers.
Not many Nationals players offer the 2017 team extensive postseason experience but Werth and Blanton are an exception. Werth is the lone player in the expected starting lineup with a World Series ring and Blanton is the only pitcher on the roster with one. Stephen Drew is the only other player on the expected 25-man roster with one as well.
Werth and Blanton will look to relive the old days. Both are on expiring contracts and will be fighting for a job again next year. A championship victory could be just what they need to comfortably walk off into the sunset should they decide the 2017 season is their swan song.