Coming off a combined 20 innings with only four runs allowed in his first start of the past three seasons, Philadelphia Phillies opening day starter Cliff Lee hadn’t had as bad a start to a season as he had in Monday’s season opener against the Texas Rangers since his last opening day start in 2009 against, ironically, the Rangers.
Lee, while pitching for the Cleveland Indians, allowed seven runs on 10 hits in five innings to the Rangers in a 9-1 loss in that 2009 start. But outside of the fact that the Phillies’ offense picked him up and got him a win, his outing in Monday’s opener was almost identical to his 2009 outing performance wise.
Lee again lasted just five innings against the Rangers, but this time he allowed one more hit and one more run than in 2009, as he allowed eight runs on 11 hits in Monday’s season opener. After pitching a scoreless first inning, Lee would allow four runs in the second, three in the third and one more in the fifth before exiting with a pitch count of 101.
Luckily for him, the Phillies’ offense was able to score six runs in the second, one in the fourth and two in the fifth, saving Lee from the loss.
Nothing to see here folks, as the only thing to take from this is that Lee routinely struggles against the Rangers — nothing more, nothing less. In his career, Lee’s 4.91 ERA against the Rangers entering Monday’s season opener is his highest against any team in baseball that he has pitched more than 25 innings against — and the second highest regardless of amount of innings pitched against.
Coming off of another stellar season in 2013 and a 2014 spring training in which he pitched 24.2 innings with 2.55 ERA, there should be no fear whatsoever of a drop off in 2014. Yes he’s 35 years old and yes sooner or later the drop off will come, but we are not at that point. As long as Lee can avoid the Rangers, he will continue be the same dominating pitcher we’ve come to know and respect throughout baseball.