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.

Best of NHL: Lee scores 2 power-play goals, Islanders beat Kings

Best of NHL: Lee scores 2 power-play goals, Islanders beat Kings

NEW YORK -- The New York Islanders are on quite a nice roll.

Anders Lee scored two power-play goals to lead the Islanders to a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night, giving New York its third straight win and fourth in the last five games.

"We've been keeping it simple of late," said Lee, who has four goals in two games against the Kings this season. "We've been getting shots on net and being more effective. I'll do my thing down low."

John Tavares had a goal and an assist, Jason Chimera also scored and Jean-Francois Berube stopped 34 shots to earn his first win in his third start of the season (see full recap).

Hartnell snaps tie as Blue Jackets beat Carolina 3-2
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Blue Jackets would just as soon forget the second period of Saturday's game, when the Carolina Hurricanes rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie it.

Columbus didn't play much better in the third but withstood 15 shots and killed three penalties. Midway through, Scott Hartnell scored his second goal of the game , and the Blue Jackets beat Carolina 3-2.

Columbus got the win despite being outshot 37-20.

Hartnell scored in the first period and then netted the tiebreaker, helping the Blue Jackets overcome a horrendous second period - in which they managed only two shots on goal - to beat Carolina for the second time this week (see full recap).

Beagle scores in overtime, Capitals beat Stars 4-3
DALLAS -- Jay Beagle scored 19 seconds into overtime and the Washington Capitals rallied to beat the Dallas Stars 4-3 on Saturday night.

Evgeny Kuznetsov skated behind the net and put the puck in front to Beagle. His wrist shot beat goalie Kari Lehtonen, who got tangled with a defender and lost his footing.

The Stars led 3-1 and didn't allow Washington a power play until the third period, but then Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie scored with the man advantage in the first 5:26 of the period.

Adam Cracknell and Jamie Benn scored for Dallas on plays that originally were ruled no goal. Patrick Eaves had a goal and an assist for the Stars (see full recap).

Bogosian scores in overtime, Sabres edge Canadiens 3-2
MONTREAL -- The Sabres couldn't score from in close on All-Star goalie Carey Price late in regulation Saturday night.

So Zach Bogosian teed it up from a ways out in overtime to lift Buffalo.

Bogosian scored his first goal of the season in overtime and the Sabres beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in the second game of a back-to-back for both teams.

Buffalo nearly broke through against Price near the end of the third period. Price made a pad save on Matt Moulson on a breakaway at 19:40, and then with six seconds remaining, he robbed Rasmus Ristolainen with a windmill glove save (see full recap).

 

Best of NBA: Kawhi Leonard scores 41, Spurs down Cavaliers in OT

Best of NBA: Kawhi Leonard scores 41, Spurs down Cavaliers in OT

CLEVELAND -- Kawhi Leonard scored a career-high 41 points, LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 118-115 in overtime on Saturday night despite missing starters Tony Parker and Pau Gasol.

Leonard scored six in OT, including a game-sealing dunk with 4.9 seconds left, as the Spurs regrouped after a late collapse in regulation.

David Lee, making a rare start in place of the injured Gasol, added 14 points as San Antonio improved to 18-4 on the road.

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving scored 29 apiece for the Cavs, who had the last shot in regulation and had plenty of opportunities in the extra five minutes. Cleveland still had a chance to tie it in the final second of overtime, but Kevin Love missed a 3-pointer (see full recap).

Lillard, McCollum carry Portland to OT win over Boston
BOSTON -- Damian Lillard had a three-point play with 47 seconds left in overtime and finished with 28 points to lift the Portland Trail Blazers to a 127-123 victory over the Boston Celtics on Saturday night, snapping their four-game losing streak.

CJ McCollum scored 35 points to lead Portland, which lost in the closing seconds in Philadelphia on Friday night. Lillard added seven assists.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 41 points, his 14th time this season with 30 or more points. Marcus Smart and Al Horford each scored 17 for the Celtics, who have lost two straight after winning 13 of 16.

Thomas nailed a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:24 to play in OT, pushing Boston ahead by one, but Al-Farouq Aminu was fouled on the next possession and hit both free throws to move Portland back in front.

Lillard then drove the lane, was fouled and hit the free throw. Mason Plumlee had a short jumper in the lane and a free throw in the closing 24 seconds (see full recap).

Booker scores 26 as Suns edge Knicks 107-105
NEW YORK -- Devin Booker scored 26 points and made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 31 seconds left, and the Phoenix Suns beat the New York Knicks 107-105 on Saturday night.

Carmelo Anthony's attempt at a winning 3-pointer rimmed out as Phoenix snapped a two-game losing streak and handed New York its second loss in a row.

Eric Bledsoe added 23 points for the Suns, while P.J. Tucker and Marquese Chriss each had 15.

Anthony led the Knicks with 31 points, Derrick Rose had 26 and Kristaps Porzingis scored 14 (see full recap).

Dekker scores career-best 30 leading Rockets past Grizzlies
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Sam Dekker scored a career-high 30 points, James Harden added 29 points and 10 assists and the Houston Rockets leaned on their usual 3-point offense to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 119-95 on Saturday night.

Eric Gordon added 21 points as the Rockets built the lead to as many as 20 in the fourth quarter before easily coasting home.

Dekker, making his first career start in place of the ill Ryan Anderson, made 12 of 19 shots, including 6 of 11 from outside the arc. Houston shot 51 percent overall and 38 percent from distance.

Marc Gasol scored 32 points and Mike Conley added 15 for the Grizzlies, who lost for the third time in the last four.

Memphis struggled shooting the entire night, finishing at 37 percent and unsuccessfully tried to follow the Rockets' long-range attack but converted only 9 of 34 from outside the arc (see full recap).