Cliff Lee is a great pitcher. If he makes another run this season, the Philadelphia Phillies‘ left-hander might also find a baseball mate for the American League Cy Young Award that he won as a member of the Cleveland Indians in 2008.
Cole Hamels (17-6) was credited with 11 more wins than Lee (6-9) in 2012. As all sabermetric disciples know, a won-loss record isn’t the best measure of any mound man.
Hamels’ 1.124 WHIP was slightly higher than Lee’s 1.114. That negligible difference didn’t make Lee the superior pitcher, but it underscored just how terrific he was.
Heading into the 2013 season, the Phillies knew that they needed Lee to replicate his 2012 campaign. The odds are tipped in favor of the 34-year-old veteran receiving run support this season. So far, albeit through only two games, he’s been the beneficiary of enough love to win his first two games.
Anyone who has seen Lee work knows that his control can actually be too precise. Consistently replicating a super-smooth delivery allows him to cross the plate at will.
This season Lee looks like a celebrity chef who’s cutting each three-dimensional corner of the plate, instead of a vegetarian’s rejected slab of honest red meat through the middle.
He’s issued zero walks and only 10 hits through his first two starts, which yields a minute 0.600 WHIP. It’s very difficult to score runs when almost no one is allowed on base. Thus his 1.08 ERA feels right.
Having two superb left-handers in the rotation gives the Phillies a competitive advantage. As long as their hallowed right-handed teammate is able to maintain his doctored location, Charlie Manuel’s squad could rebound into the postseason this fall.
If it wasn’t for Hamels, Lee would be considered the best Philadelphia left-hander since Steve Carlton. While he won’t match ‘Lefty’s’ fourth Cy Young this season, he seems primed to tie Halladay with a second trophy in his own storied career.