Cliff Lee: A Look Into the Winless Phillies Pitcher

Coming into the 2012 season, the Philadelphia Phillies expected themselves to be led by their stud pitching rotation, especially by ace #2 Cliff Lee. While Philly has seen themselves underperform through the first three months of this season, it’s safe to say that Lee has had an even more disappointing season.

The Phillies left-hander is a surprising 0-5 this season and while in the beginning you could blame that on lack of run support and bullpen troubles, as of late, it’s been mostly on Lee. After dazzling in 2011 with a 17-8 record and a sparkling 2.40 ERA, things have come crashing down as of late as Cliff Lee’s ERA currently stands at 4.13 as he’s dropped yet another game. Not only has Lee lost back-to-back starts, but he has also allowed 4 earned runs or more in 4 consecutive starts and in 5 of his last 6. After going 0-1 in April with a terrific ERA of 1.96, Lee went 0-1 with a 3.71 ERA in May and has followed that up in June with going 0-3 with an ERA of 6.12.

I won’t call myself a Cliff Lee expert, especially because I’m not in the position to watch him every night so I cannot say that his velocity is down or that he can’t throw a certain pitch for strikes but I can say that this winless start is now on his shoulders. As I stated earlier, he pitched very well in April but couldn’t get a win but since his starts have gone from great to good, good to okay, and okay to just plain bad. For awhile the Phillies were actually giving Lee leads in all of his starts and for whatever reason, he started blowing each lead he was given whether it be early in the game or more often later. Since then, the Phillies haven’t even had time to give him a lead to work with because he has struggled so mightily. In his last 4 starts, Cliff Lee has allowed 4, 5, 5 and 6 earned runs in each of those games. Not exactly what Philadelphia paid for. Will Cliff Lee go 0-for-2012? Unlikely. But something for those struggling Phils to keep their eye on is that Lee will turn 34 this August and that is the age when some pitchers begin to lose it. Not to mention, with all of the complete games that he’s had to complete the past 4 seasons, there is a strong possibility that those long outings have had an impact on his arm.

Follow me on Twitter, @richmacleod.

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