Cliff Lee’s Amazing Game

I don’t think even the most over-reactionary of fantasy owners had any major concerns about Cliff Lee after his second start where he managed just 3.3 innings allowing six runs on 10 hits and a walk in Atlanta.  Seeing that line for your ace is never fun, but every pitcher takes some beatings over the course of 32 starts.  Even Lee’s teammate Roy Halladay gave up six runs in two separate outings last year.

Just in case anyone was worried about Lee in the slightest, his performance on Thursday alleviated any and all fears a million fold.  He put together an effort so ridiculous that it has only been done 11 times (2 of which were no-no’s) in baseball history (or at least the history tracked by Baseball-Reference).  A complete game 3-hit effort with 12 strikeouts and a walk is excellent enough as is, but when you factor in that Lee performed the feat in just 99 pitches, it’s kind of mind-blowing.

Lee’s control has never been in doubt and it was hyperactive last night with 74 strikes out of the 99 pitches.  He just dismantled the Nationals, that’s all there is to it.  He induced four or more swinging strikes on four of his five offerings (two & four seam fastballs, cutter and curveball) with the curveball generating five swings and misses on just seven thrown!

He had three single digit pitch innings (2nd, 4th and 6th) and topped 12 just twice (3rd w/15 and 8th w/16).  It probably won’t get the fanfare it deserves because it’s not a perfect game or a no-hitter, but it’s a brilliant effort without question.  As I mentioned before, Lee’s sub-100 pitch complete game with 10+ strikeouts has happened just 10 other times and only one other matched his 12 strikeouts (Sandy Koufax, 1964).  Lee’s 74 strikes were 2nd to Terry Mullholland’s 76 which came in one fewer pitch during his 98-pitch gem back in 1991.

Here is the list in full thanks to Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index (sorted newest to oldest):

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit Strks GmSc
1 Cliff Lee 4/14/2011 PHI WSN W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9 3 0 0 1 12 0 99 74 92
2 Chris Carpenter 9/7/2009 STL MIL W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9 1 0 0 2 10 0 99 64 93
3 Chris Carpenter 6/14/2005 STL TOR W 7-0 SHO9 ,W 9 1 0 0 1 10 0 95 68 94
4 Roy Halladay 5/29/2005 TOR MIN W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9 2 0 0 0 10 0 99 72 93
5 Roy Oswalt 4/16/2004 HOU MIL W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9 3 0 0 0 10 0 94 66 91
6 Mike Mussina 5/1/2001 NYY MIN W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9 3 0 0 0 10 0 99 69 91
7 Curt Schilling 4/10/2001 ARI LAD W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9 2 0 0 0 10 0 93 73 93
8 David Cone 7/18/1999 NYY MON W 6-0 SHO9 ,W 9 0 0 0 0 10 0 88 68 97
9 Terry Mulholland 9/18/1991 PHI MON W 1-0 SHO9 ,W 9 2 0 0 0 10 0 98 76 93
10 Tim Belcher 8/30/1991 LAD CHC W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9 4 0 0 0 10 0 99 70 89
11 Sandy Koufax 6/4/1964 LAD PHI W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9 0 0 0 1 12 0 97 68 98
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3 Comments to “Cliff Lee’s Amazing Game”

  1. Thanks Paul, I enjoy your work. What happened to the daily spot-starting suggestions you were going to make? Any intention of making that a regular thing? Also, I love your work on middle-relievers. Any plans to make some early suggestions as to pickups/drops?

    • I plan to post it for the entire week every week, but I didn’t get to this week with spotty internet. So look for the weeklong picks over the weekend. And yes, I plan to do something about who to hang onto, etc… in the early going.

  2. Thanks Paul, how do you like Hochevar tonight? I took a look at the Mariners line-up, pretty weak, but a lot of lefties…

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