As it turns out, Cliff Lee’s tour and demolition of the National League will be put on hold, at least through the 2010 season. If the blockbuster involving Roy Halladay, the Phillies, and the Mariners occurs, Lee is rumored to be on the move for the second time in six months, this time to the Pacific Northwest.
Seattle has no shortage of mid– and back-end starters currently piled behind Felix Hernandez in their rotation. Brandon Morrow has some potential, as do Ryan Rowland-Smith and Ian Snell, but pitchers like Doug Fister and Jason Vargas are what you think they are. Unlike the failed Erik Bedard experiment, which was doomed thanks to injuries, Lee has thrown more than 200 innings in four of his last five seasons. His xFIP over the last two seasons have been 3.57 and 3.69, his groundball rate has sat above 40% while his fly balls are below 40%, and oh yeah, he’s left-handed.
Lee throws a variety of pitches. A four and two-seamer, neither of which gets much in the way of whiffs but both are thrown nearly 70% of the time for strikes. A change-up that misses bats and hits the zone, a slider which does the same, and a lesser used curve that – you guessed it – follows a similar pattern. Lee throws strikes and walks few. His modest strikeout rates are boosted by such efficiency and a move back to the American League means he probably won’t post a 3.2 xFIP moving forward, but his ERA should shine in front of the Seattle defense and in Safeco.
We aren’t sure exactly what Seattle will give up yet. Hopefully we find out soon enough. What we do know is that Lee has posted back-to-back seasons with more than 6 WAR and seems destined to repeat once more barring injury. The Fans currently have Lee at 6.1 WAR, and you can contribute your vote (if you haven’t already) by clicking here.