Lee Getting Stronger As Season Winds Down

While it hasn’t been the season he had envisioned, Phillies lefthander Cliff Lee been pitching some of his best baseball of late.

Lee didn’t earn the decision in Friday’s 3-2 win over the Colorado Rockies, but that is nothing new.

It was his 14th no-decision of the year.

Yet this was one of those times in which he left with the Phillies trailing 2-0 and settled for a no-decision.

Lee allowed two earned runs in 6 1/3 innings, the fourth consecutive start that he has given up two or fewer earned runs.

The streak began when he surrendered two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings and earned no decision in a 5-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Aug. 21.

In his next start, Lee allowed one earned run in seven innings during a 4-1 win over the Washington Nationals. The left-hander followed that performance with last Saturday’s 5-1 win in Atlanta in which he pitched seven shutout innings.

On Friday against Colorado, Lee had seven strikeouts while not allowing a walk. He surrendered eight hits in 6 1/3 innings and threw 104 pitches, 72 for strikes.

In his last four starts he has struck out 26 and walked two.

Even though Lee is just 4-7 this season, his ERA is a respectable 3.50. 

“For the most part I felt pretty good all year but the last three or four starts have really gone well, I feel like I am locating better,” Lee said.

Lee hasn’t suffered a loss since Aug. 11 when he dropped a 4-1 decision to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Lee has thrown 175 innings and certainly doesn’t seem to be wearing down as the season concludes, which is not surprising.

Since 2008 Lee is 35-14 (.714)  in 66 post all-star break starts, the fourth most wins and fourth best win percentage in the majors over that span.

He relies on pinpoint control and especially lately, has been hitting his spots. Lee entered the game leading Major League starters in percentage of first pitch strikes (71 percent this season).

“I feel like I have been giving the team a chance to win and that is my job,” Lee said.

Actually for most of the year he has been competitive. In 13 of his 25 starts he has allowed two or fewer earned runs.

What has hurt Lee is the long ball. He has allowed 22 home runs this year after surrendering 18 in 232 2/3 innings a year ago.

Friday was the fourth consecutive game that Lee has not allowed a home run.

Lee continues to give the Phillies a chance to be competitive when he takes the mound, regardless of his won-loss record.