Pardon me for asking, but has someone secretly replaced opposing lineups with a bunch of Double-A hitters any time Cliff Lee has taken the mound this year? I realize this is a somewhat bizarre conspiracy theory, but in my defense I’d like to present you with my evidence: his numbers.
In his first start of the season, Lee went 6.2 innings, allowed four hits, a walk, an unearned run, and struck out four. This upset him greatly, and he vowed never to pitch so poorly again.
In his next start, he went 8 innings, allowed a run on two hits, struck out eight, and walked no one.
In his next start, he went 8 innings, again allowed two hits and no walks while striking out eight, but did not surrender a run.
And last night, he went 9 innings, allowed three hits, no walks or runs, and struck out nine.
In 31.2 innings, he has allowed 11 hits, walked 2, struck out 29, and has a 0.28 ERA. I’d venture to say that half the pitchers in the majors today would struggle to put up those numbers if they got four starts in the Midwest League.
Just focus on his last three starts. On three consecutive occasions Lee has pitched 8 innings or more, allowed no more than 3 hits, walked no more than one batter, and struck out at least 8 batters.
We have game logs going back to 1956, courtesy of Retrosheet and Baseball-Reference.com. Since 1956, do you know how many pitchers had made three straight starts with 8+ innings,