Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Familiar Start for Lee in Philly

On August 6th, 2009 no one saw foreshadowing in a 3-1 Phillies win at the intersection of Pattison Avenue and Citizen's Bank Way. Instead, we were all mesmerized as Cliff Lee pitched his first game in Citizen's Bank Park since being signed by the Philadelphia Phillies. Lee threw 7 strong innings and struck out 9 batters in his home debut and left the field to a standing ovation. There might have been a few baseball fans that were concerned with other Philles that day, but they were certainly hard to find. I can assure you, though, that everyone was much less concerned about the team the Phillies played...the Colorado Rockies.

Tomorrow, October 7th, 2009, exactly 2 months and a day since Lee's Philadelphia home debut, Citizen's Bank Park will once again be the spot for a Cliff Lee home debut - this time it will be the first playoff game Lee has pitched in his career. Surprisingly, this game will feature the Colorado Rockies, again. In Lee's only outing against Colorado, the Rockies managed 6 hits with only one extending to extra bases. Lee's 9 strike outs came mainly from a delicately place fastball and an on-point curveball. Essentially, Lee was able to keep the Rockies off balance all day long with pitches that could not be lifted to the gaps.

While Cliff Lee continued to dazzle the Philadelphia crowd for a few more starts, things seemed to change around August 29th. Since then, Lee has had a 2-4 record and a 6.20 era. One can only guess as to what may have changed in Lee's pitching to allow such a difference in his numbers. "He has been leaving the ball up, he has been relying on his curveball, the NL has finally caught on to his pitching style." All of these excuses could be debated, but the important thing to realize is that it isn't important at all!

As we saw last year with Cole Hamels, the postseason is a new animal and can breed a new player. Cole Hamels was able to dominate through the playoffs winning a game in each series against Milwaukee, LA and finally Tampa Bay. Lee seems to be the one pitcher in the rotation that is really struggling recently. With this said, if he is able to take this "new season" attitude into tomorrow's game and feed off of the Philly Phaithful, there is no reason that August 6th, 2009 was not the perfect foreshadowing to October 7th, 2009.
Go Phillies!


  1. You're closing argument seems to be that there is NO REASON why Cliff Lee's debut in a Phillies uniform SHOULD NOT foreshadow his supposed future success kicking off the Phillies post season, and I agree. There is nothing about that game that would preclude a winning performance tomorrow.

    But, my question then becomes, "What reason, other than the fact that this is yet another debut, do we have to believe that it SHOULD foreshadow a winning performance?"

  2. Daniel - My point is to show that struggles can end abruptly if one can change their attitude with a situation. Lee has never pitched in the playoffs and while he has struggled recently, this new season allows him to "start over". Much like the first few games in a Phillies uniform (Lee's numbers were not as good in the fist half in Cleveland), if Cliff is able to forget about the past and use the post season as a "new season" there is no reason to think he cannot return to form.

    Essentially, I am arguing that Cliff has stayed unchanged physically - missing spots can be many things. I will not make arguments to his struggles, because they are truly speculation. I would think attitude and setting could change many of his problems and Lee's outing could then look much like his August outing (9 K's, 7 innings, W).

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. Well reasoned and excellently argued. I agree with you.