Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Real-Lee good move

Philadelphia added Cliff Lee to its starting rotation for 4 minor leaguers. The Phillies also got OF Ben Francisco, who will provide a right-handed bat off the bench.

Lee, whose middle name is Phifer, immediately becomes Philly's best starter. Using the Game Score method, Lee has tossed 7 "gems" this year in 22 starts (nearly 32 percent). He has 14 starts with scores of 55 or better. Teams last year won at a .683 clip when starters had scores of 50 or better; the Indians were 7-7 in Lee's 14 games of 55 or better. (The Phils are 32-12, .727, when getting a 55 or better.)

The Phillies have had 19 starts this season in 98 games that qualify as gems. Joe Blanton has 6, Cole Hamels 5, J.A. Happ 4, Jamie Moyer has 2, Chan Ho Park 1, Brett Myers 1. Park is now in the bullpen and Myers is on the DL. The Phils were 16-3 in those 19 gems.

Philadelphia has won in large part thanks to its offense. In the 25 worst starts by Phils' pitchers, the Fightins were 12-13. That's pretty remarkable. Last year, the Angels were 14-29 when their starters had a Game Score under 40. That record led MLB. The Phils are 14-16 in such games this season.

Lee has 3 complete games this season; Phillies starters have 2.

The only troubling component of Lee's game is he is not a groundball pitcher and over the past two seasons only 6 percent of his flyballs have turned into homers. That is a very low number, below the average of 10-11 percent. Pitching in the Zen might change that.

On the bright side, Philadelphia is a much better defensive team than Cleveland, which should benefit Lee.

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