Results tagged ‘ Cliff Lee ’

NLDS: Phillies vs. Cardinals

The Cardinals haven’t announced anything, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports this is how the Cardinals’ rotation sets up for the NLDS:

  • Game 1 at 5:07 p.m. Saturday: Kyle Lohse (14-8, 3.39 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (19-6, 2.35 ERA)
  • Game 2 at 8:07 p.m. Sunday: Edwin Jackson (5-2, 3.58 ERA) vs. Cliff Lee (17-8, 2.40 ERA)
  • Game 3 at TBA Tuesday: Cole Hamels (14-9, 2.79 ERA) vs. Chris Carpenter (11-9, 3.45 ERA)
  • Game 4 at TBA Wednesday (if necessary): Roy Oswalt (9-10, 3.69 ERA) vs. Jamie Garcia (13-7, 3.56 ERA)
  • Game 5 at TBA Friday (if necessary): TBA vs. Halladay

You’ve got to like the pitching matchups in the first two games for the Phillies. Halladay and Lee have been two of the best pitchers in the National League this year. Unless they were facing Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander they would be favored. Not that the Cardinals don’t pose challenges. Lohse is 2-0 with a 1.37 ERA in four September starts, and has a better ERA on the road (3.13) than at home (3.67) this season. He also is 1-1 with a 1.76 ERA in two starts against the Phillies. Jackson was 3-0 with a 3.02 ERA in his last seven starts, and he allowed more than two earned runs in only one of them. But since he joined the Cardinals in July, Jackson has a higher ERA on the road (4.40) than at home (3.10).

Of course, as Charlie Manuel would say, “You got to hit, son.”

 

The Rotation Shines

If Cole Hamels had picked up his 15th win in relief last night it would have been the first time a team had three pitchers in the rotation with 15 or more wins and an ERA under 3.00 since 1972, when the Baltimore Orioles and Oakland A’s did it.

Roy Halladay finished the season 19-6 with a 2.35 ERA. Cliff Lee finished 17-8 with a 2.40 ERA and Hamels finished 14-9 with a 2.79 ERA. The ’72 Orioles had Jim Palmer (21-10, 2.07 ERA), Mike Cuellar (18-12, 2.57 ERA) and Pat Dobson (16-18, 2.65 ERA). The ’72 A’s had Catfish Hunter (21-7, 2.04 ERA), Ken Holtzman (19-11, 2.51 ERA) and Blue Moon Odom (15-6, 2.50 ERA).

But the Phillies rotation lived up to the hype this season. Phillies starters had a 2.86 ERA, which is the best in the big leagues since the 1985 Los Angeles Dodgers (2.71 ERA) and 1985 New York Mets (2.84 ERA). It also is the 12th best ERA of any rotation since baseball lowered the pitcher’s mound in 1969.

A couple other numbers about the rotation:

  • Their 932 strikeouts are the most since the 2003 Chicago Cubs (987) and rank sixth overall since 1969.
  • Their 1.11 WHIP is the best since the 1975 Dodgers (1.09) and third-best since 1969.
  • Their 4.20 strikeout-to-walk ratio is the best since 1969.

Not bad.

Lee, Madson Make SI Cover

It’s a regional cover in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

Game 1 Starter Is Halladay. Duh!

Charlie Manuel isn’t ready to officially announce his Game 1 starter in the National League Division Series, but why should he?

It’s obvious, isn’t it?

It’s going to be Roy Halladay on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park with Cliff Lee pitching in Game 2 Sunday.

“I think if you’re good baseball people you should be able to see how we’re setting it up,” Manuel said. “I shouldn’t have to answer that.”

It is no surprise. Halladay is 19-6 with a 2.35 ERA this season. Lee is 17-8 with a 2.40 ERA. Cole Hamels (14-9, 2.75 ERA) is a good bet to start Game 3 with Roy Oswalt (8-10, 3.86 ERA) likely to start Game 4.

Magic Number: 2

So here’s the deal:

The Phillies can clinch the NL East championship tonight, if they beat the Cardinals and the Mets beat the Braves.

I say, why wait?

Elias Sports Bureau passed along some pretty good stats and such from yesterday’s doubleheader:

  • Cliff Lee has allowed only four earned runs in 64 2/3 innings in his last eight starts. His 0.56 ERA during that stretch is the lowest ERA by a pitcher over any eight-start span in one season in Phillies history and the lowest by a pitcher on any team since 2002, when Pedro Martinez had a 0.47 ERA for the Red Sox over eight starts from July 1-Aug. 10.
  • Ryan Howard ended a 0-for-16 slump with a walk-off double in the 10th inning in Game 2. Howard’s 0-for-16 was the second-longest slump of his career. He went hitless in 23 consecutive at-bats May 14-20.
  • Kyle Kendrick allowed only one run and two hits while striking six batters and issuing no walks in five innings to pick up the win in Game 1. Kendrick has five wins as a starting pitcher this season (one in May, June, July, August and September) and in those five wins he’s given up only three runs and 19 hits in 32 innings, with no more than one run allowed in any one of those wins.

Cliff, we felt your pain last night when you served up that solo homer to Jose Lopez with two strikes, two outs and nobody on the top of the ninth inning in Game 2. We especially felt it in in the pressbox, where the writers had some pretty sweet game stories almost finished. But we’re not mad at you. You’ve kept game times under 3 hours for most of the season, and we’re deeply grateful for that.

As an aside, there was a pretty incredible rainbow that popped up behind the ballpark in between games of the doubleheader. This is a great photo above, but it doesn’t really do it justice. There actually was a bit of a double rainbow for a few minutes, which had me wondering how Double Rainbow Guy is doing.

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Clinched! (Kind of)

The Phillies clinched a postseason berth with today’s 1-0 victory over Houston.

I was thinking what would have happened if this had happened five years ago. If you recall, the Phillies clinched the 2007 National League East championship on the final day of the season. But what would have happened had the Phillies been cruising to the division title in ’07 — following a 14-year absence from the postseason — and clinched the NL Wild Card a few days earlier? Would they have celebrated?

It’s tough to say, but one thing is certain: there was no way they were celebrating a Wild Card berth today.

Wild card? As Cliff Lee would say, “Whatever.”

This team has bigger fish to fry. I can’t crawl into every player’s head, but I certainly get the sense this team is focused on one thing: a World Series championship. You have guys that have been on this team and have fallen short (Roy Halladay, Raul Ibanez, Roy Oswalt, Placido Polanco, etc.), guys that have never made the postseason (Hunter Pence) and a guy that passed up millions because this is where he thought he could win a World Series (Cliff Lee). There are a lot of hungry players on this team. A lot of people that believe this is the team’s best shot to bring a parade to Broad Street.

Wild Card? Puh-leeze.

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Worley, Ibanez and the Game 1 Starter

A quick note from last night’s victory over the Braves:

  • The Phillies have won 14 consecutive Vance Worley starts. The last team to win 14 or more consecutive starts by a pitcher was the St. Louis Cardinals, who won 17 consecutive Chris Carpenter starts in 2005.

In case you were wondering:

  • Baseball Prospectus estimates the Phillies have a 100 percent chance of making the playoffs.  It breaks down like this: a 99.9 percent chance of winning the division and a 0.1 percent chance of winning the wild card. Yeah, that sounds about right.
  • Raul Ibanez had a good night last night. I like the idea of Ibanez and John Mayberry Jr. platooning the rest of the season and into the postseason. Ibanez is hitting .262/.314/.440 against right-handers and .198/.223/.362 against left-handers, while Mayberry is hitting .286/.341/.607 against left-handers and .244/.320/.458 against right-handers. But maybe the location of the game and not just the pitcher should influence Charlie Manuel‘s lineup. Ibanez is hitting .292/.332/.525 at home and .197/.223/.362 on the road. For whatever reason, Ibanez has been a much better player at Citizens Bank Park. Maybe it’s the “Rauuuuuuuuuul” chants, but it’s something to consider once October rolls around.
  • Lot of people have been asking me about the postseason rotation. There’s no debate to me. If everybody is rested, healthy and can be lined up the way the Phillies want to line them up it looks like this: Game 1 is Roy Halladay, Game 2 is Cliff Lee, Game 3 is Cole Hamels and Game 4 is Roy Oswalt. Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball, so I start him in Game 1, even if Lee is hot. Why? Because Halladay is pretty good, too. He did throw a no-hitter in last year’s playoffs. He did win the Cy Young. If he wins Game 1 and Lee is pitching like he has been, Lee will put his foot on the throat of the other team in Game 2. Or if Halladay somehow loses Game 1, then Lee will even the series. Really, there’s no wrong way to go, but that’s the way I go. And I go with Oswalt because of his pedigree. Yes, Worley has pitched great, but I like Oswalt coming up big in the postseason. Got to go with your aces.

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Lee Dominates; Who’s Your Cy Young?

Cliff Lee threw his sixth shutout last night. That’s the most in the big leagues since Randy Johnson threw six for Seattle and Houston in 1998. It’s also the most in the National League since Tim Belcher threw eight for Los Angeles in 1989 and the most for the Phillies since Steve Carlton threw six in 1982.

Lee has a 0.37 ERA in his last six starts. Wow, you say? Wow, indeed. Elias Sports Bureau found only two other pitchers in Phillies history had a 0.40 ERA or better in a six-start span: Carlton in 1972 and Grover Cleveland Alexander in 1915. Here is something else interesting from Elias: Lee is 16-7 with a 2.47 ERA and Roy Halladay is 16-5 with a 2.49 ERA. The only other pair of teammates over the past 40 seasons with 16 or more wins and an ERA under 2.50 on-or-before Labor Day was Pedro Martinez (17-4, 2.22 ERA) and Derek Lowe (18-6, 2.33 ERA) for Boston in 2002.

Which brings me to this: Who is the National League Cy Young?

I understand why, but Phillies fans say it’s either Halladay or Lee. Period. It seems everybody here forgets about Clayton Kershaw, who is having an incredible season in Los Angeles. Let’s take a look at Kershaw, Halladay, Lee, Ian Kennedy (who leads the league in wins) and Cole Hamels (who would be more in the conversation if he had a couple more wins).

League rankings are in parenthesis:

  • Wins: Kennedy – 18 (1), Kershaw – 17 (2), Halladay – 16 (3), Lee – 16 (3), Hamels – 13 (9).
  • ERA: Kershaw – 2.45 (2), Lee – 2.47 (3), Halladay – 2.49 (4), Hamels – 2.63 (6), Kennedy – 2.96 (10).
  • Complete games: Halladay – 7 (1), Lee – 6 (2), Kershaw – 5 (3), Hamels – 2 (5), Kennedy – 1 (17).
  • Shutouts: Lee – 6 (1), Kershaw – 2 (2), Kennedy – 1 (4), Halladay – 0 (NA), Hamels – 0 (NA).
  • Innings: Kershaw – 205.2 (1), Lee – 203.2 (2), Halladay – 202.2 (3), Kennedy – 194.1 (6), Hamels – 185 (10).
  • Strikeouts: Kershaw – 222 (1), Lee – 204 (2), Halladay – 195 (3), Hamels – 169 (8), Kennedy – 167 (10).
  • Opponents OPS: Kershaw – .566 (1), Hamels – .572 (2), Halladay – .591 (4), Lee – .599 (6), Kennedy – .660 (10).
  • Base runners per 9 innings: Hamels – 8.90 (1), Kershaw – 9.28 (2), Lee – 9.50 (3), Halladay – 9.68 (4), Kennedy – 10.44 (8).
  • Strikeout-to-walk ratio: Halladay – 7.50 (1), Lee – 5.10 (2), Hamels – 4.45 (3), Kershaw – 4.44 (9), Kennedy – 3.27 (10).
  • WAR: Halladay – 7.2 (1), Kershaw – 6.2 (2), Lee – 5.9 (3), Hamels – 5.2 (4), Kennedy – 3.8 (11).

We can drop Kennedy from the conversation. He leads the league in wins, but wins aren’t truly indicative of a pitcher’s performance. (The bullpen blew leads in two of Halladay’s last three starts, which would have given him 18 wins.) I think Hamels would have a better shot, but in the end missing a couple starts will hurt his overall numbers when compared to Kershaw, Halladay and Lee. Now ask yourself this question: If you were a baseball writer in Milwaukee or Houston or Florida or Colorado, who is having the best season of the remaining three? Kershaw has more wins, innings and strikeouts; a better ERA, opponents OPS and base runners per 9 innings than Halladay and Lee. Halladay has more complete games and a better WAR and K-to-BB ratio than the other two. Lee has more shutouts.

Kershaw’s edge over Halladay and Lee in some of those categories is slight. Kershaw could have the edge nationally, but I’ve got to think a strong finish from Halladay or Lee, especially if Lee keeps doing what he’s doing, puts one of them ahead at the end. My vote? Halladay. He has been more consistent than Lee and he’s the undisputed ace on a rotation of aces. And the differential between Halladay and Kershaw in some of those categories is negligible. The tie goes to the best pitcher in baseball, who is playing for the best team in baseball.

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Lee’s August (Kind of Like Lee’s June)

What an August for Cliff Lee:

  • He became just the third pitcher in baseball history to go 5-0 with an ERA under 1.00 in two separate months in the same season. He went 5-0 with a 0.21 ERA in June and 5-0 with a 0.45 ERA in August. He joined Bob Gibson in 1968, who went 6-0 with a 0.50 ERA in June and 6-0 with a 0.50 ERA in July, and Walter Johnson in 1913, who went 5-0 with a 0.24 ERA in April and 6-0 with a 0.81 ERA in July.
  • Lee also became the first pitcher to throw at least seven scoreless innings in at least 10 starts in the same season since Dwight Gooden and John Tudor in 1985. Gooden and Tudor accomplished the feat 11 times.
  • He was one out from throwing his sixth shutout of the season, which would have been the most in the National League since Tim Belcher threw eight in 1989 and the most for the Phillies since Steve Carlton threw six in 1982.
  • Told about Lee’s connection to Gibson and Johnson, Charlie Manuel said, “I would have liked to hit off Walter. I never saw him, but I’d like to swing at him.”
  • Lee said he didn’t realize he waved toward first base when he grounded out in the fourth inning. But he said he should have ran.

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Lee’s Dominance

Cliff Lee pitches tonight against the Reds. He has thrown seven or more shutout innings in nine of his starts this season.

Yes, that’s a lot.

Baseball Reference said with one more start like that he would become the first pitcher since Dwight Gooden and John Tudor in 1985 to accomplish it 10 times in one season. Click the link to take a look at others on the list.

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