Cliff Lee is just about the only player on the Philadelphia Phillies who has not missed substantial time due to injury over the past five years. He was also one of the few bright spots for the team last season with a 14-8 record, 2.87 ERA, 222 strikeouts and just 32 walks.
With Cole Hamels‘ setback today, Lee will need to be the Phillies’ best pitcher this season. Last season he posted the third best ERA of his career, and the 35-year-old has shown no signs of slowing down. He broke the 220 inning mark for the fourth time in his career and posted the second most strikeouts of his career as well.
In Lee’s last five starts last season, he pitched eight innings four times (seven innings in the other game), gave up less than three runs in all but one game (gave up three), recorded at least eight strikeouts in each game and allowed only 26 hits.
In two appearances this spring, Lee has been sharp throwing five innings, allowing two runs but recording five strikeouts and zero walks. As long as he continues to stay consistent, Lee should experience more success this season as the team should score more runs with the core of the team being healthy.
Best case prediction: Lee pitches 231 innings, has 2.52 ERA, 230 strikeouts and 21-5 record.
Worst case prediction: Lee pitches 190 innings, has 3.89 ERA, 175 strikeouts and 7-10 record.
Realistic prediction: Lee pitches 224 innings, has 2.81 ERA, 219 strikeouts and 18-7 record.
Lee will need to be the workhorse with Hamels out to begin the season. There is a chance the Phillies will try to survive parts of April with just four starters. They will rely on him to eat innings and allow the bullpen to rest. If the Phillies score some runs, Lee could be in for one more big season.