Lázaro Blanco Matos
Lázaro Blanco Matos
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 185 lb.
Lázaro Blanco has pitched for the Cuban national team.
Blanco took several years to establish himself as a star. He debuted with the Alazanes de Granma in 2004-2005, going 0-1 with a 4.03 ERA and 1.93 WHIP in 14 games in relief. He followed with seasons of 2-1, 7.83 in 2005-2006, 1-0, Sv, 4.79 in 2006-2007 and 6-4, 5.28 in 2007-2008. He fell to 2-11, 8.77 in 2008-2009. He tied Ricardo Estevez for third in the Serie Nacional in losses and was second with 89 runs allowed (11 behind Yoelkis Cruz). He was sharper at 5-7, 5.71 in 2009-2010 and stayed steady at 4-7, 5.90 in 2010-2011. In 2011-2012, he allowed 25 hits and 14 runs in 11 innings, going 0-1.
He turned the corner in 2012-2013 at age 26. He was 8-7 with a 4.15 ERA for Granma; when they did not make the second half in the new format of the league, he was picked up by Matanzas and was 2-0 with a 2.83 ERA for them (BR register has higher second-half stats for him; Cuban-play lists the 2-0, 2.83). He opened 2013-2014 at 3-4, 2.73 for Granma. Again moving to Matanzas for the second half, he was 6-2 with a 2.82 ERA, primarily out of the bullpen. He tied Alberto Bicet and Yusmel Velázquez for 5th in the league in wins and was 10th in ERA (2.77).
The Yara native was Granma's ace in 2014-2015, going 14-5 with a 3.46 ERA. He led the league in starts (24), wins (two ahead of Bicet, Yoanni Yera or Jonder Martínez), was third in IP (138, behind Bicet and Yosvani Torres) and was 10th in ERA. He was named the loop's All-Star right-handed pitcher. At age 29, he debuted for the Cuban national team in the 2015 Pan American Games. He dominated in the round-robin. In the opener against Colombia, he relieved Ismel Jiménez with a 4-3 lead and one out in the 5th and pitched 4 2/3 hitless, scoreless innings, striking out six to get the win. He got the win over the Dominican national team in a 9-5 decision (7 K, 2 R in 5 IP). He got the start in the Bronze Medal game against Puerto Rico; after three shutout innings, he gave up a grand slam to Edgardo Báez to fall behind 4-3; Erlis Casanova relieved and Cuba would rally for a 7-6 win. He tied Phillippe Aumont and Nate Smith for second in the Games in wins, one behind Chris Leroux. He also led with 18 strikeouts, two ahead of Aumont or Smith. Despite a rough ending for the Games, he had a fine debut overall for the national team.
In 2015-2016, he was 5-7 for Granma despite a nearly identical ERA to 2014-2015 (3.47). He led the league with 127 innings (3 over Cruz) and was 7th with 70 strikeouts. Switched to Ciego de Ávila for the finals, he was excellent in a game 1 win (1 R, 2 H in 7 1/3 IP) but struggled in a game 5 loss (5 R in 4 1/3 IP); the team did win it all. He was with the Cuban team that played in the 2016 Canadian-American Association, going 1-1 with a 2.79 ERA and fanning 20 in 19 1/3 IP.
Blanco was superb in 2016-2017 at 14-3, 1.63. He led the league in wins (one ahead of Yoanni Yera), ERA (.39 over Alaín Sánchez) and shutouts (3). He was second in IP (143 1/3, 8 2/3 behind Vladimir García), was second in WHIP (1.18, .02 behind Freddy Asiel Álvarez) and tied Sánchez for third with 79 strikeouts. In the finals, he beat Yera in game 1 and starred in game 3 as well as Granma won its first championship. He won Serie Nacional MVP honors. Starting for Granma in the opener of the 2017 Caribbean Series, he blanked the Tigres del Licey for 6 1/3 innings in the win; Liván Moinelo closed out the whitewash.