Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The 2009 Starting Rotation Part 1: Cliff Lee

That Cliff Lee owns the top spot in the Tribe's rotation should be obvious to any fan who was conscious during the 2008 season. Lee guaranteed himself the opening day start by becoming the Tribe's first 20 game winner in over two decades, while bringing the club their second Cy Young trophy in as many years. Cliff's ability to repeat his 2008 numbers, however, is anything but guaranteed.

With countless awards on his mantle, it's easy to forget that he is the same pitcher who went 5-8 with a 6.29 ERA in 2007, walking 36 batters in 97 innings on his way to Buffalo. He proceeded to walk 25 more batters in 41 AAA innings, winning the right to watch his team lose the ALCS from home.

Forced to battle with Aaron Laffey and Jeremy Sowers for the 5th spot in the Tribe's 2008 rotation, Cliff pulled off possibly the greatest turnaround in baseball history. He went 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA, with 34 BB and 170 Ks. He improved his ground ball % by almost 10 points, while adding 1 K/9 and subtracting a HR/9 from his previous year's numbers.

The secrets to his success, which he tells all who will listen, were confidence and command. Cliche'? Probably. Effective? The results speak for themselves. Can he keep it going in 2009? While it is unlikely that he would revert to his disastrous 2007 season, it remains equally unlikely that he will keep his ridiculous 2008 numbers going. The AL is too tough of a league for a guy who lacks the "stuff" of a CC Sabathia or Johan Santana to repeat such a performance.

Chubby Indian Says:
200 IP, 15-5, 4.10 ERA, 135 K, 42BB. Probably not Cy Young numbers, but a damn fine season.

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