Breaking news: Cliff Lee is a really good pitcher. Lee dominated the Braves Monday night, throwing the sixth complete game shutout of his season. Five hits, zero walks, six strikeouts and one hundred pitches right on the nose. He faced but three hitters above the minimum. Ho. Hum.
Since back to back rocky starts in late July, Lee has surrendered just two total runs in his last 48.2 innings pitched. Two runs. Both earned. One home run. In six starts spanning nearly 50 innings. Good luck, every other team in baseball!
Cliff Lee is probably the second best pitcher in baseball which, insanely, makes him the second best pitcher on his team. For all the love and momentum for Clayton Kershaw’s awesome 2011, Lee’s plaudits are a little further and far between. Do we take the greatness of Cliff Lee for granted? Is his style to blame?
Last night on Twitter, ESPN analyst Keith Law was asked how Cliff Lee dominates like an ace despite not having “ace” stuff like his teammate Roy Halladay. Lee doesn’t throw as hard nor does he miss as many bats as Halladay or Hamels.
Lee is a master of command. He throws strikes with all his pitches in nearly every count. Lee mixes his cutter and four seam fastball in nearly equal measure, getting the much vaunted “weak contact” early in the count while setting up his curveball – a pitch he saves for two strike counts almost exclusively.
There isn’t too much to say about Cliff Lee that hasn’t been written and said one thousand times before. With Lee riding high, the Phillies are poised for the playoffs. Pretty much just as they’ve been since about May. Whenever Utley came back. They could have raised the division banner that day.