|Not shown: Joe Blanton|
Oh, and there was a fifth guy in the rotation, a perfectly serviceable innings-eater acquired from Oakland by the name of Joe Blanton. Blanton was not one of the Big Four, nor was he mentioned much in the articles that talked about their impending awesomeness. He was, to be honest, a little chunky-looking, and he didn't have a cool nickname like "Doc" or "The Wizard of Os", and he didn't have a cool backstory about how he got traded for and then traded away and then came back, or how he once got a tractor as a bonus. The guys who were traded for him weren't hot, sexy prospects - if you're holding onto that Josh Outman rookie card, I have bad news for you - and really, he was seen as Just A Guy. Which, honestly, seemed to be fine with all concerned.
Fast forward half a decade. Halladay's gone, felled by injuries in an increasingly painful to watch series of breakdowns. Lee's gone, the last flailing attempt at a comeback short-circuited in this year's spring training. Oswalt went down almost immediately, riding three increasingly injury-interrupted years to Texas, then Colorado, then out of the league, with a weird and unpleasant digression about refusing to pitch out of the bullpen along the way.
Which brings us to now. And the last two members of that rotation standing are Cole Hamels, currently out-pitching his peripherals (and with the lowest K/BB ratio of his career) in Texas, and Blanton, who has become an indispensable cog in the newly functional Dodgers bullpen. If that long-ago Phillies rotation was the Beatles, then Hamels is Paul and Blanton is Ringo, except he was supposed to be Pete Best.
And at this point, I wouldn't put money on the idea of Blanton outlasting Hamels. But I wouldn't bet against it, either.