On Friday night, Cliff Lee took the mound against the Miami Marlins, threw seven strong innings allowing just one run, and came away without a win.
It’s what Lee has come to expect pitching for the 2012 Philadelphia Phillies. Lee has made 29 starts and thrown over 200 innings but he has just six wins. Lee’s 6-8 record is a statistical outlier when looking at the rest of his numbers – exactly 200 strikeouts in 205 innings pitched and a stunning 7.14 strikeout to walk ratio that now ranks as the 12th best single-season total in modern baseball history.
His 3.12 ERA is ninth in the National League, he’s sixth in WHIP (1.107), sixth in strikeouts, seventh in innings pitched, and third in WAR (5.0, per FanGraphs).
Lee has received an average run support of 3.69 runs per game, the seventh-worst total among all National League starters, although to be honest, I’m surprised he’s even gotten that many runs.
Check out Lee’s numbers in his last eight starts to date – he’s thrown 57 innings, recorded 58 strikeouts, and walked four. Seriously. He has a 1.26 ERA during that span, he’s holding opposing hitters to a .236 batting average and .566 OPS, and he’s thrown strikes on 72 percent of his pitches. He’s been as sharp as any hitter in the game, and he’s even gotten four wins during that stretch despite the fact that his entire team has scored a total of 24 runs in those eight games – and that’s including the innings after Lee has been removed.
The fact that Lee has no run support has absolutely cost him a run at the Cy Young award. I don’t know if he would have won it but if you substitute the win-loss record he had last year (17-8) for this year, he would be right in the thick of it with R.A. Dickey, Gio Gonzalez, and Clayton Kershaw.