The Philadelphia Phillies are finishing this season in last place primarily because of poor starting pitching.
Cole Hamels did have a wonderful season and Cliff Lee was on his way to a solid year before going down with an elbow injury at the end of July. Outside of their two horses the starting staff has given almost nothing to Ryne Sandberg.
Philly is the first MLB team since 2012 with two pitchers making 30 starts and finishing with an ERA+ of less than 85.
Year Lg Tm #Matching 2014 NL Philadelphia Phillies 2 A.J. Burnett / Kyle Kendrick 2012 AL Cleveland Indians 2 Ubaldo Jimenez / Justin Masterson 2012 AL Kansas City Royals 2 Bruce Chen / Luke Hochevar 2012 NL San Francisco Giants 2 Tim Lincecum / Barry Zito 2011 NL New York Mets 2 Chris Capuano / Mike Pelfrey
Justin Verlander proved last night that he has still got it. The media may have you think that he had lost it this year. That he was finished as an ace. After tossing eight shutout innings against the Oakland Athletics in the deciding game of the ALDS they will now tell you that he is back. The problem with this narrative is that he never went anywhere.
Verlander finished with the fourth most strikeouts in the American League, one ahead of Felix Hernandez.
No one is writing that any of those four elite pitchers have taken a step back or are finished as an ace. Verlander showed us last night that we shouldn’t even think of writing him off yet.
With a 13-to-1 strikeout-to-walk rate over his last 16 starts of 2012 Cliff Lee garners a spot on the NL 2nd half All-Star team. When you are only walking 2 out of every 100 batters you face you are going to prevent some runs. During this span Lee gave up only 2.3 runs/start while going at least 6 innings in each of the 16 starts.
Cliff did “lose” 4 games in the second half but he gave up only 3 runs/game in these “losses”.
Through 280 big league starts I feel like Lee is on the border of hall-of-fame election. He should get to at least 2,200 strikeouts for his career which would place him in the range of Jim Palmer, Tommy John and Doc Gooden. Lee’s K/BB rate is identical to Bret Saberhagen which is world class company and his likely career WAR (50) will tie him with Sandy Koufax & Whitey Ford.
So what accomplishments does Lee have to reach to get your HOF vote? Also, how much do you weigh in his fantastic postseason mark? Lee’s average outing over 11 starts is 8 K, 1 BB, 2.5 Runs.