Cliff Lee Has Actually Fared Well After High Pitch Count Outings

Cliff Lee Has Actually Fared Well After High Pitch Count Outings

Guest post by Matt Hammond

Cliff Lee will face a former
team that traded him away for the first time tonight on their home turf when he
takes on the Indians in Cleveland, the team and city he won a Cy Young with
earlier in his career. He's got the attitude you'd expect:

“It’s another outing,” Lee said in the
Phillies’ dugout Tuesday afternoon. “I guess the only thing that
makes it different is that I played here and they traded me away.”

It’s
totally possible that Lee eats shards of metal for breakfast. Don’t know.

But
some of his machine-like tendencies are clearer to see.

For
the Phillies, who have to be wondering how he’ll do after getting 120 hours to
recover from tossing 122 pitches last Thursday in the finale vs. the Pittsburgh
Pirates, one of them bodes well. 

Ten
times in Lee’s career has he taken on such a 122-pitch load. (All of them,
incidentally, were as a Phillie under manager Charlie Manuel.) His ERA in those
starts is 1.61.

His ERA in the following starts
is 1.59.

For
those games after: Lee’s gone 7-0. Three complete games, two of them complete
game shutouts. One was another 122-pitch start. Only once lasted fewer than six
innings (four, because he had to be yanked after a rain delay). Only two others
went fewer than eight innings. Never once did he surrender more than four runs.
Seven of nine times he held opponents to two runs or fewer.

Thinking
Lee’s good for tonight.

On
the year: Lee’s been basically everything that he was last year, only with more
wins and fewer home runs. The difference has been with his cutter. Of his 26
home runs last year, nine were off cutters, the most of any pitch. This year,
he’s yet to allow one on it. Most everything about the pitch is the same: same
velocity, same movement. Only, a better opp BA (.226 to .293) and no homers.

Overall,
Lee’s somehow kept batters in the yard this year better despite putting the
ball in the air markedly more. His GB% has dipped considerably (from 45.0% to
37.0%) with his FB% (36.9% to 41.7%) making up the difference. Yet, Lee’s HR/FB
is down (from 11.8% to 6.7%). In all, only three home runs sprinkled
across five starts.

We’ll
see if that holds up against the seven-bombs-in-a-game Indians.

However
he does, Lee’s going to be aggressive doing it. He’s tied for fourth in
baseball with a 51.0% swing rate this year, and not because he’s lucked out
thanks to guys chasing (30.7 O-Swing%). Lee’s even allowed contact, yet
maintained success with a relatively sustainable .276 BABIP.

He’s
also got the seventh-most vertical movement on his curveball (-10.1), which is
cool and stuff.

Four
of five of Lee’s starts so far have been for quality. The exception? His
five-runs-in-five-innings outing against the Cardinals, when he (gasp!) walked
three whole batters in a 5-0 loss on Apr. 20. It was rare, and Lee kept it that
way, following up with vintage stuff against the Pirates, albeit in a loss.

One
other cool game note: Lee’s never faced Cleveland, where he won his AL Cy Young
in 2008. It’s the last MLB franchise he’s yet to oppose. He has seen some
current players, though. Drew Stubbs is 5 for 11 against him with five
strikeouts. Nick Swisher (8 for 33, 2 HR, 3 RBI) and Mike Aviles (5 for 22, HR,
2 RBI), Jason Giambi (3 for 10, HR, 2B) have done OK with varying chances.

*

7:05
start. Delmon Young gets the DH role again. The Phils look for the split before
returning home to face the Fish on Thursday in Philadelphia.

Instant Replay: Nationals 4, Phillies 0

uspresswire-phillies-jake-thompson.jpg
USA Today Images

Instant Replay: Nationals 4, Phillies 0

BOX SCORE

The Phillies were beaten, 4-0, by the Washington Nationals on Monday night, but wins and losses don’t matter as much as development in a rebuilding season, so there was a bright spot: Rookie right-hander Jake Thompson finally broke through with a good start in holding the Nats to two runs over seven innings.
 
The Phillies’ offense was not good. It produced just four hits on the night.
 
Washington got all the offense it needed when Jayson Werth, the second batter of the game, homered off Thompson in the first inning.

The Nats lead the NL East at 76-55. The Phils are 60-71.
 
The crowd of 16,056 was the smallest of the season at Citizens Bank Park.
 
Starting pitching report
Thompson had struggled in four starts — 9.78 ERA — since arriving from Triple A and there were questions whether he’d even make this start. But he put together a nice outing. After giving up two runs in the first inning, he pitched six straight scoreless innings, finishing his outing with three strikeouts, the last of which came on his 111th pitch when he froze Trea Turner with a breaking ball with two men on base. Thompson allowed seven hits — four in the first three innings — and walked one.
 
Washington right-hander Tanner Roark pitched seven shutout innings to improve to 14-7. He held the Phils to four hits and a walk and struck out five.

Bullpen report
Frank Herrmann gave up two runs in the ninth.
 
At the plate
Odubel Herrera had two of the Phillies’ four hits.
 
Werth’s homer in the top of the first was his 19th. Anthony Rendon drove in a run with a two-out single in that inning. Clint Robinson and Turner had RBI singles in the ninth to push the Nats’ lead to 4-0.
 
ICYMI
Herrera is staying in center field for the remainder of the season, Pete Mackanin said (see story).
 
Up next
The series continues on Tuesday night. Jerad Eickhoff (9-12, 3.87) pitches against Washington right-hander Max Scherzer (14-7, 2.92).

Eagles sign Soul DT Jake Metz following workout

Eagles sign Soul DT Jake Metz following workout

Jake Metz has gone from the Soul to the Eagles.

Soul majority owner Ron Jaworski on Monday night tweeted a congratulatory message about the defensive tackle signing with the Eagles.

Metz and Soul wide receiver Darius Reynolds, fresh off an ArenaBowl title last Friday, worked out for the Eagles this afternoon before practice. Metz is the 74th player on the roster, which means the team is still below the next cut line — which is Tuesday at 4 p.m. — of 75. The Eagles' roster has to be at 53 by 4 p.m. on Sept. 3.

Metz, 25, graduated from Souderton Area High School and played his college ball at Shippensburg University. For the Arena Football League champions, Metz posted Soul highs in sacks (eight) and tackles for loss (10).

Pete Mackanin says Odubel Herrera will stay in CF this season — but beyond?

Pete Mackanin says Odubel Herrera will stay in CF this season — but beyond?

A couple of weeks ago in Los Angeles, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said there was a chance he could look at Odubel Herrera in a corner outfield spot over the final weeks of the season.

Scrub that idea.

“Not this year,” Mackanin said Monday. “If we decide we're going to do that, we'll encourage him to play a corner in winter ball and then in spring training, if that's what we decide to do.

“I thought about doing that. But I don't know if we want to do that now. We’ll just let him get back on track offensively. I won't say it won't happen here or there. But we're not going to make that move right now.

“Let's try to keep his mind as uncluttered as possible right now. It looks a little cluttered.”

The Phillies have thought about moving Herrera to a corner spot because they have a top center field prospect in Roman Quinn. Also, Aaron Altherr is an excellent defender in center.

Quinn seemed to be on target for a call up after the Eastern League playoffs, but that could be in doubt now that he’s on the disabled list with a concussion.

Still, Quinn may be this club’s centerfielder of the future. And behind him is Mickey Moniak, this year’s top draft pick. He’s a ways away. But it’s worth wondering if the Phillies believe Herrera’s future is at a corner outfield spot. Or whether Herrera will be wintertime trade bait.

Mackanin was asked if he believed Herrera’s future would be in a corner spot.

“You know, I'd rather not really even comment on that,” he said. “I don't want him to think that we're not pleased with him. I just want to keep him confident the rest of the season.”

Herrera’s defense in center field has slipped this season.

“He was better last year defensively,” Mackanin said. “He's made a lot of mistakes this year. I think we've all seen that. But that doesn't mean he's not going to play center field anymore. There's another month left to see what happens.”

Herrera was the Phillies’ lone representative in the All-Star Game. He hit .294 with a .378 on-base percentage and a .427 slugging percentage before the All-Star break. Since then, however, he was hitting .252 with a .314 on-base percentage and a .378 slugging percentage entering play Monday night.