The Cliff Lee sweepstakes keeps on rolling and I hear commentators and writers talk about how he is an All Time great post season pitcher.
Now I am not going to belittle his post season record but let’s calm down for a little bit.
First of all, if I turned back the back the world a la Superman all the way back to 2008, Cliff Lee’s career post season numbers would look like this:
So he went to 0 games to the second coming of Sandy Koufax in two years?
Now going into the 2010 World Series, his post season stats were indeed eye popping.
He was 7-0 with a 1.25 ERA in 8 career post season starts with the Phillies and Rangers.
He averaged more than 8 innings a start, throwing 3 complete games (and it could have been 5 complete games except he was lifted for a mop up man in both the 2009 NLCS and 2009 ALCS.)
So yes, he was outstanding.
Then came Game 1 of the 2010 World Series where he was more impressive as a hitter then a pitcher.
Look, any great pitcher can lose a pitchers duel. Even Bob Gibson lost a game 7 (mainly because Curt Flood tripped in a puddle.)
But here’s the hand the Rangers dealt Lee in Game 1:
They were playing in a pitchers ballpark against a notoriously weak offense and they took an early 2 run lead off of Tim Lincecum, who couldn’t make it out of the 6th and let up 4 runs.
Cliff Lee should win that game 101 times out of 100, not give up 6 earned runs in less than 5 innings to a bunch of banjo hitters.
And not to be harsh, but he lost again in the elimination Game 5. He didn’t pitch badly, but he DID let up a 3 run homer to 80 year old Edgar Renteria while Lincecum was all but flawless.
His numbers for the World Series were ugly. REAL ugly.
It doesn’t diminish what he did before, but it should put a damper on the hyperbole of where he ranks all time.
Lee’s 2 years were damn good, save for the 2010 World Series… but he’s no Dave Stewart. He’s no Curt Schilling. He’s no John Smoltz.
If he won that first game in San Francisco, chances are the Rangers would win the Series… and the whole “He just wants to win a ring” element of the negotiations would be off the table.
And as I pointed out in my OTHER post that references Superman, there are some red flags about his health and age that make me think that 7 years for him might be excessive.
But hey, he’ll be paid as an All Time Great and if he leads either the Rangers or the Yankees to a World Series title than nobody will remember those 2 games in 2010.