Cliff Completes un-be-Lee-vable Rotation

Cliff Lee chose the Philadelphia Phillies over the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers, perhaps because Citizens Bank Park was the most pitcher-friendly of the three teams’ home ballparks. CBP ranked ninth in baseball last season in home run-friendliness based on Park Factor while Yankee Stadium was second and Rangers Ballpark was tied for seventh.

The Phillies have been to the postseason three straight years, and they clearly went out and acquired Lee for his playoff resume. He was 4-0 in five postseason starts with the Phillies in 2009 with a 1.56 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP. He’s won seven of his 10 career postseason starts with a 2.13 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP while striking out ten times as many hitters as he’s walked!

Halladay Combined with new teammate Roy Halladay, the Phillies now have the best two command artists in the game. Last season they finished 1-2 in strikeout-to-walk ratio, becoming just two of 10 starters since 1901 (who qualified for the ERA title) to post a ratio over seven in that category.

If they can duplicate that number this season, they’d become the first pair of starters to do it in the same rotation.

On a similar note, Lee and Halladay are just two of 32 pitchers since 1901 to pitch more than 200 innings and walk 30 or fewer in a season, which they both accomplished in 2010. If they can do it again in 2011, they’d be the first pair of teammates to accomplish it since Deacon Phillippe and Jesse Tannehill did it for the 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Phillies will enter 2011 with three pitchers who have recorded at least 100 decisions and have a winning percentage of .620 or better. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time that’s happened in the National League was in 1957 when the Dodgers did so in their last season in Brooklyn.

And while a lot of attention was given to the historic start to Lee’s postseason career, the Phillies have four other starters who have matched up or come close to Lee’s best performance in a single postseason. The chart below shows each of Philly’s five projected starters and their best performances in a single postseason. Keep in mind that Halladay threw a no-hitter in his first playoff start and that Blanton hit a home run in his first World Series start!

Best Individual Perfromances in a Post Season

Player Year W-L ERA WhiP K/BB Ratio
Cliff Lee 2009 4-0 1.56 0.82 5.5
Cole Hamels 2008 4-0 1.80 0.91 3.3
Roy Halladay 2010 2-1 2.45 0.77 6.7
Roy Oswalt 2005 3-0 3.29 1.21 2.0
Joe Blanton 2008 2-0 3.18 1.29 3.0

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