Cliff Lee looks like he is ready for the 2014 season to begin.
In yesterday’s 1-0 loss to the Detroit Tigers, Lee went five strong innings, giving up six hits and one run while walking one and striking out seven.
The lefty had a great spring training, finishing with a 2.55 ERA while giving up 20 hits, walking four, and striking out 26 in 24.2 innings pitched overall.
Good spring trainings have not been a trend for Lee. He has finished spring with an ERA under 4.50 only twice since 2006. The last time was in 2012 when he finished spring training with a 2.45 ERA. His career spring training ERA sits at 5.56
In 2008, Lee finished spring training with a 5.68 ERA. He then went on to go 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA, earning him the Cy Young Award. So much for that.
As Jimmy Rollins would say, “who cares” about spring training stats. In this case, however, Lee’s spring training stats show that the 35-year-old south paw still has plenty left in the tank.
In 2012, Roy Halladay, 34 at the time, finished spring training with 5.73 ERA and finished the regular season with an 11-8 record and a 4.49 ERA; his worst season since 2000. Halladay’s age seemed to show, but Lee’s has not, and that is a great sign.
While spring training statistics, especially for a pitcher, are not always telling of what will transpire in the season, they can be telling of a player’s potential; especially a 35-year-old player.
If the Phillies are going to contend this season, they will need Lee to be himself, maybe a little better. With Cole Hamels out for the better part of April, Lee will need to put the rotation, and perhaps the team, on his shoulders until Hamels’ return.
So far, he has looked completely capable of doing that.