Cliffmas in 2011; Lee 3rd in Cy, Doc Finishes Runner-Up

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, November 17, 2011 02:16 PM | Comments: 16
2011 Player Review, Posts

(Photo: Philadelphia Inquirer)

The NL Cy Young award was announced today and Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers is your winner, unseating the incumbent, Roy Halladay, who finished second.

Behind them in third place was the second of the Phillies aces, Cliff Lee. Cole Hamels finished a very respectable fifth. Below is the full NL Cy Young voting.

This post also doubles as the season review for Lee. Next week, we’ll take a deeper look at Halladay as our season review continues.


There were a few tough stretches during the 2011 season that made some people cringe when it came to Cliff Lee. After signing a new contract at over $20 million-per-season, it’s never any fun to start with a 4.18 ERA in April. Sure, he struck out 10 or more batters three times in that first month, but don’t lie; you were holding your breath a bit.

But even so, you were still smitten that Lee took “less” to come back to Philly. He talked so highly of the city and the fans that you were willing to look past a rocky start.

Lee eased into a solid May, but something was still missing. To that point, there had only been flashes of dominance. We’re the Phillies paying for just OK? His contract stipulated he be paid like a superstar pitcher, because that’s what he’d been the previous four years. Not to worry, he’d show up in a big way.

June was one of those months you only dream about seeing as a fan and living as a pitcher. In five starts, and over 42 innings, Lee gave up one run. ONE. Let that sink in. It’s just silly.

On June 28 against the Boston Red Sox, Lee would complete his third consecutive shutout. After that amazing performance, Lee summed it up with this: “It’s been a good run, no doubt about it. I’ve had a few in my career, but I don’t look back and compare them. I want to throw a shutout every time out there. I never want to give up a run.” In June, it all came together in a perfect storm of an unhittable breaking ball, a riding-inside cut fastball, and a slinky-like curve. At one point, Lee went 34 straight innings without allowing an opposing player to touch home plate.

It all came crashing down in Toronto on July 3 as Lee allowed seven runs, including three homers. That led to a July that was, statistically, his worst month.

August was another peak after the valley of the previous month. And if he hadn’t just completed one of the greatest months in MLB history in June, we’d be talking about Lee’s August for a long time.

Cliff have up only two runs over 39 2/3 innings during the dog days of Summer, quite an accomplishment. His ERA that month? Try 0.45. Lee won all five games that month just as he had in June.

Unfortunately, we’ll remember his less-than-stellar performance in the NLDS against the Cardinals. With the opportunity to put his team up 2-0 in the series, and given a 4-0 lead after the first two innings, Lee faltered, allowing five runs on 12 hits in six innings. He was paid big money to show up in big games and he failed to do so. That being said, the Phillies offense disappeared completely after that quick outburst and couldn’t help Lee overcome a substandard outing.

What we’ll remember from Lee’s season are his ups and downs, his two storybook months, and his sad ending. Truly a roller coaster season filled with more greats than not-so-greats for Lee. Sadly, it left us with a sour taste in our mouths.

GRADE: 9.1/10 - Lee was incredible at many different times during the year, but again, the NLDS loss looms large.

Avatar of Pat Gallen

About Pat Gallen

Pat Gallen has written 1684 articles on Phillies Nation.

Pat is Editor-in-Chief of Phillies Nation. He also covers the Phils for 97.5 FM in Philly.

  • Posts: 0 BART SHART

    Great starting pitching —- Congrats to Halladay, Lee and Hamels. Kershaw deserved the Cy this year. Let’s hope Ruben keeps those three aces together for at least the next three years or more. With them, we will have something strong to root for every baseball season.

  • Posts: 0 Ryan H.

    let me sum up Cliff Lee’s season in two simple words: Utter Failue.

    his complete failure to pitch like a “superstar ace” or even a “decent pitcher” in game 2 of the NLDS is the #1 reason why the Phils failed this season. and make no mistake, this season was a complete loss. it was WS win or bust. and Cliff Lee and his bad pitching got us booted in the first round of the playoffs. Forget the regular season (where for long streches he was completely mediocre). This season was all about the playoffs. and he came up short. no way around it. Take off the rose Cliff Lee colored glasses Philadelphia. Stop blaming Ryan Howard (or even the rest of the offense for that matter). This one is on C Lee.

    • Posts: 0 Ryan H.

      If Kyle Kendrick or Joe Blanton or Vance Worley had started game 2 of the NLDS; we would have attended a parade on broad street this year.

      staked to a 4 run lead and blew it. there is no way to make that ok or rationalize it.

      • Posts: 5223 Lefty

        Avatar of Lefty

        “staked to a 4 run lead and blew it, there is no way to rationalize it.”

        Because as we all know, really good pitchers never lose any games. Verlander never lost a game, Carlton? Seaver? Ryan? Walter Johnson? Nah, they never lost a game.

        That’s why there are so many perfect games every year, because good pitchers are perfect every time out.

      • Posts: 5223 Lefty

        Avatar of Lefty

        Oh and don’t forget that guy Halladay, he let Cody freakin Ross hit 2 home runs against him and lost game one of the NLCS last year, he stinks too. Get rid of all of them.

        We’re better off with Kendrick, Blanton and Worley.

      • Posts: 1135 EricL

        Avatar of EricL

        Yo, Ryan H, stick to your music career: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woySeSNBL3o , as your baseball analysis skills are a bit lacking.

    • Posts: 0 Jeff Dowder

      Of course, the fact that the offense scored no runs and only had one base hit in the final seven innings of that game had nothing to do with losing. They did their job for two innings, why bother showing up for the final seven?

    • Posts: 0 Ryan

      I wonder how a horrible pitcher can finish third for the NL Cy Young. He may have been mediocre for some months, but for others, he pitched better than any other pitcher. Which includes Justin Verlander. One game doesn’t determine whether a pitcher is good or not. All pitchers have horrible games and a few mediocre pitchers can have one great game and throw a no hitter, but that doesn’t make them amazingly good.

  • Posts: 0 Chris

    Cliff had a great regular season albeit a pretty inconsistent one. But the fact is he was brought here to win in the playoffs and didn’t get it done. Pitchers have bad days of course so you can’t fault him much for it. But I suppose you could view his season as a failure because of it. I’d rather have Lee out there pitching instead of the other guys Ryan mentioned though. They could have done equally bad or worse

  • Posts: 0 Jeff

    Cliff Lee is a streaky pitcher. He can look dominate at times and horrible other. The bottom line is he came for the big spot and failed with a four run lead. His season was a failure I agree. This team just keeps on spending money in the wrong areas. we do not need pitching. my god. get offense. the big planet is fading.

    • Posts: 1135 EricL

      Avatar of EricL

      Ok, to the “Cliff Lee’s season was a failure” crowd, I hope you all agree that if Lee’s season was a failure, so were the seasons of Ryan Howard, Placido Polanco, Carlos Ruiz, Hunter Pence and Raul Ibanez and Roy Halladay (lost the last game of the season, after all).

      And once you guys do that you should probably punch yourself in the face for not understanding the concept of “variance” and how it hugely effects data over short sample sizes (read: ‘playoff series’).

  • Posts: 0 phil

    Cliff lee had a .600 babip against him in game 2. He was incredibly unlucky. He had 2 mediocre months a bad month a very good month and 2 of the top 10 greatest months for a pitcher in the history of baseball. He may have been inconsistent but he was still a top 5 pitcher in all of baseball this year. Stop being so negative. We are lucky to have a pitcher as great as cliff lee.

  • Posts: 0 Andrew

    When was the last time that a team had three top 5 finishers in the Cy Young ballot?

  • Posts: 0 phil

    Where can we get offense? That is the real question…

  • Posts: 993 betasigmadeltashag

    Avatar of betasigmadeltashag

    I think Cliff is a great pitcher had a pretty amazing season with some dips in it but that is expected. He is not Roy who had a few bad games. But the point we brought him in to win in the playoffs. As I do not agree that he is totaly to blame or do I think that one game determined his whole season. If Cole had pitched game two like that he would have been shipped out of town by most of you.

    • Posts: 32 kittykat

      Avatar of kittykat

      And there’s the rub. First, I don’t think Cole would have pitched that badly in game 2 of the NLDS and second, he would most definitely be run out of town by this fan base. Lots of love for Lee in this town no matter what he does. Other than 09, Cole has been pretty darn good in the post season especially since he has to pitch on the road. Lee was home with his adoring fans. I have no idea what more Cole Hamels needs to do in this town.

      Cole will never win a CY Young award in Philadelphia because the team refuses to score behind him and he will never get the wins. He’ll have the ERA but never the wins. His stats were great this year but again, not enough wins.

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