Cliff Lee had the numbers of a guy who, if you didn’t know his win-loss record, you’d thought would have won 16 or 17 games in 2012. Alas, Lee finished the 2012 season 6-9, receiving very little run support from his Philadelphia Phillies teammates along the way.
Lee’s quest to see a few more wins in 2013 begins Thursday night against the Atlanta Braves, as the lefty searches for his (and his team’s) first win of the year.
Lee had a 3.16 ERA in 2012, pitching 211 innings and allowing just 207 hits, while striking out 207 batters. His control was impeccable as it has been throughout his career as he walked just 28 batters. While Lee did try to pitch through the lack of run support, there were times that it did appear to get to him, whether he admitted it or not.
He faces an Atlanta team that has torched Phillies pitching over the first two games. Lee’s goal will be to shut down a hot Atlanta lineup.
He will only be successful if he finds a way to keep Justin Upton from doing damage. Upton has two home runs for Atlanta in the first two games, taking both Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay deep.
There’s also a bit of pressure on Lee to deliver the first decent pitching performance of the season, as both Hamels and Halladay failed to do so. There is no doubt that this Atlanta lineup is one of the best in baseball, and Lee will have to respond to the task Thursday night.