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You can make a decent argument that Clifton Phifer Lee is the best starting pitcher in baseball. Granted, thanks to the intidimidating presence of future first ballot Hall-of-Famer Roy Halladay, it might be easier to argue he's not even the best starting pitcher in his own team's rotation. (And thanks to the continuing emergence of Cole Hamels. may even earn a bronze in the City of Brotherly Shove). But the case can be made for the lithe lefty.

Still, look at his performance last night against the Dodgers -- 7.2 IP, six hits, two runs, one walk, 12 strikeout, seven shoutout frames to begin the game. What's that, it  must be his seventh or eighth win of the year already? Um, not quite ...

Sure, Lee threw 92 strikes on 122 pitches in the 2-1 loss to LA, the most strikes in a single game in the majors this season and the most since Halladay threw 94 in April of 2011.

Lee's numbers to this point in 2012 have been typically oustanding for the 2008 Cy Young Award winner and three-time All-Star; in nine starts so far, he averages more than seven IP per game, and owns an ERA of 2.92 and a K/BB ratio of 6:1 (66/11). In fact, after moving back to Philly after the 2010 ride to Texas' first World Series, Lee has almost certainly been, at least, MLB's finest left-handed starter, anyway. (Well, then, there's Hamels again ...) 

So what's the big deal? It's a phrase starting to show up in headlines, or at least subheads, over stories every time Lee makes a '12 start -- and his next will be his tenth, so while he has missed two turns this year it's not like he's been disabled for any extended time this season -- the phrase "remains winless."

Dude's 0-3. He can make a good case for belonging on the All-Star team next month, and he's yet to record a victory. Heavens to 1987's Nolan Ryan (The '87 Express led the NL in ERA and K, and finished fith in the CYA voting, despite sporting an inglorious 8-16 record on the season) ... is Lee "on pace" to have the most dominant, least successful pitching season in our lifetimes?

So here's today's carefull-crafted and considered discussion question ...

Cliff Lee -- what the hell?

Discuss ...


(P.S. bonus cuttlefish to the first Bauxite to cleverly and correctly respond to the headline, without relying on our Google Overlords!)


Cliff Notes: His uniform says "Lee," but the record says "Clavin" | 9 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Chuck - Wednesday, June 06 2012 @ 09:15 AM EDT (#257968) #

Cliff Lee -- what the hell?

Cheers for the post, Mick. As Buck Martinez sagely advised us all last night, ERA doesn't matter. Wins do. So clearly the 0-3 is all on Lee. He's got to learn how to win.

Ryan Dempster finally learned how to win last night, goosing his record to 1-3. His 2.59 ERA? Meaningless. Right Buck?

zeppelinkm - Wednesday, June 06 2012 @ 10:08 AM EDT (#257969) #

Ahh, so I wasn't the only one who heard Buck utter that nonsense last night.

"I don't care about a guy's ERA or strikeouts or any of that stuff... give me a guy who wins ballgames"

Something like that.

Chuck - Wednesday, June 06 2012 @ 10:33 AM EDT (#257971) #
Martinez and Tabler fall somewhere between Muzak and white noise on the sound continuum.
James W - Wednesday, June 06 2012 @ 10:40 AM EDT (#257972) #
Verlander and Kershaw are clearly a tier above Lee or Halladay. A healthier Felix Hernandez is there as well. And to enter the sarcastic realm, Chris Davis has more wins than Cliff Lee, so he's obviously better too.
hypobole - Wednesday, June 06 2012 @ 11:10 AM EDT (#257976) #
When Buck and Pat get on a roll, I either hit the mute button, or just think of them as Cliff Clavin and Norm, allowing me to enjoy a ball game and a situation comedy simultaneously.
92-93 - Wednesday, June 06 2012 @ 11:20 AM EDT (#257978) #
I believe the last SP to out-WAR his win total was Koosman in '78.
Edmonton Marc - Wednesday, June 06 2012 @ 05:46 PM EDT (#258030) #
Well, you see, Norm, it's like this.  It's a little know fact that the quality of a pitcher is inversely proportional to how many wins he gets.  In fact, look at Sammy Malone here...
Dave Till - Wednesday, June 06 2012 @ 06:31 PM EDT (#258035) #
The explanation is obvious: I acquired him for my NL Rotisserie team this year.

And I traded for Halladay just before he wound up on the shelf.

Sorry about that, Philadelphia. I'll try to acquire pitchers on divisional rivals in future.

Mick Doherty - Wednesday, June 06 2012 @ 10:32 PM EDT (#258044) #
Kudos to hypobole for the win and Edmonton Marc for snagging the spirited silver, earning the following new genre of cuttlefish, the cephalopod tattoo ...

Cliff Notes: His uniform says "Lee," but the record says "Clavin" | 9 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.