He did it again.
I’m just going to assume that you didn’t watch the Phillies and Dodgers last eve when Cliff Lee peed streams of excellence into the LA night. These Lee posts used to be a celebration of our favorite steed’s brilliance, canvii where I could write really weird things about magical ponies clop-clopping their way to and fro’ the mound. But now, especially with a late game, I feel that the job is to inform you since so few people are tuning in to Phillies games. So let’s do that.
Cliff Lee’s line last night:
113 pitches, 83 strikes, 8 IP, 4 H, 10 K, 0 BB. That’s it.
Phils win, 7-0.
Lee is 2-2 with a 1.20 ERA in his last four starts after allowing eight runs in five innings on Opening Day. In 30 innings over those four starts, he has allowed 33 hits, four earned runs, one walk and has struck out 37.
“He’s evolved over the years,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s throwing more changeups, the curveball in different ways. He’s using more pitches. He used to be simple — stuff and location. He doesn’t throw quite as hard, but it doesn’t seem to matter a whole lot.”
Lee’s fastball has lost a little more than one mph since last season, but it hasn’t affected his results.
Indeed Lee has lost a little something on his fastball– about two mph compared to April of 2011, when he arrived back in Philly. But unlike Roy Halladay, who saw an immediate decline when his velocity started to go, Lee has been just as effective (if you ignore that one start against the Rangers). Here’s a comparison of their velocity charts:
Poor Roy. His velo chart looks like a droopy penis.
Lee is just now entering the point of his career where Halladay disintegrated, but to me, there are two reasons why we shouldn’t be concerned:
1) Lee doesn’t rely as much on stuff as Halladay did. Halladay, who flirted with 95 mph at times, leaned heavily on his cutter to get outs, and his breaking pitches were in the high 70s (~78 mph). Lee throws mostly hard stuff, too, but his fastball isn’t quite as overpowering as Halladay’s was and his breaking pitches are in the mid 70s (~75 mph). In other words: he relies a bit more on the push-pull aspect of pitching, whereas Halladay needed his cutter to have velocity and to, well, cut. Lee’s success has always come from precision control, throwing strikes and keeping batters off-balance with his speed changes and rhythm. They are similar pitchers, for sure, but Lee is better equipped to deal with losses in velo, me thinks.
2) After the 2011 season, Halladay had thrown ~2,500 innings in the big leagues. Lee is only at ~2,100 innings. That’s about two full seasons behind Halladay. A lot less miles on that arm.
Video of Lee’s excellence after the jump. Enjoy as T-Mac takes just all the fun out of watching.
Video here if it doesn’t play.