The whole blog post should be these and only these words:
Cliff Lee is really good
That should suffice. Honestly, what more do you need to say?
Here’s a few things ….
- Cliff Lee has not walked a hitter in his last three starts.
- Cliff Lee has 67 strikeouts and just four walks on the season.
- Cliff Lee has gone eight innings or more in at least six of his starts.
- Cliff Lee is still going to be wearing another team’s uniform in about a month.
Sucks doesn’t it?
Obviously, I can’t be a Mariners fan. But I can be a fan of good baseball. And Cliff Lee is good baseball.
It will make my job far less entertaining when he is traded. It’s nice to come to the park on games he pitches. You know you are going to get a quality start. He’s going to work fast. He’s going to throw strikes. He’s going to make hitters swing. Even on his worst day, Cliff Lee is still better than most pitchers you will see.
Think about this, Lee didn’t even have his best stuff on Friday night. And he still shut out the Reds, who came in leading the National League Central and lead the NL in runs per game at 5.01.
“It was pretty good,” Lee said. “Really, I didn’t have all my pitches working. It was one of those games where I relied on my changeup more and tried to keep my fastball down.”
Lee said he couldn’t seem to locate his cut fastball – that’s particularly good against right-handed batters. But part of what makes Lee so brilliant is his ability to adapt in game to what’s working and what isn’t, as well as what hitters are doing against him.
“It comes with experience,” he said. “Like with anything, the more you do something, the more you should be able to adapt and adjust. That’s neverending in this game.”
In the first inning, Lee gave up a pair of hits with two outs and noticed how aggressive Reds’ hitters were being, so he adjusted.
“I tried to use it to my advantage by throwing some first pitch changeups,” Lee said. “We got several outs early doing that.”
He makes it sound so simple. And for Lee it really is that simple. But what isn’t simple is all the preparation that goes into each start. The amount of physical and mental preparation that he does in between starts is what sets him apart. Roy Halladay does that. Jon Lester does that. Not all pitchers do that.
“You want to be consistent, that’s what successful players do,” he said. “They have a good work ethic and they do everything they can to prepare. I want to be that. All I know to do is to come in tomorrow and prepare for my next start like I always do.”
Reds manager Dusty Baker was impressed.
“I’ve never seen Cliff Lee other than at his best,” he said.
Neither have Mariners fans. But now the lingering question is: how long will they continue to see it?
Because he will be a free agent next season, because he plans to test the free agent market and because Seattle’s postseason hopes are non-existent, it’s highly likely general manager Jack Zduriencik will trade Lee in the coming weeks to acquire some prospects for him to aid in the rebuilding process.
Wakamatsu was asked about that possibility before and after the game.
“It’s nice to watch him to pitch like that right now, and that’s all I care about,” he said.
And really that’s all Wakamatsu can say. Obviously, he’d love to keep Lee – any manager would – but it just doesn’t seem feasible.
The talk of Lee being traded has grown strong in the last week and will only grow stronger. But Lee just shrugs it off.
“It’s out of my control,” he said. “That’s a better question for Jack. He’s the one who makes those decisions, but I don’t.”
Lee treats trade talk like he does lack of run support – by focusing on what’s in front of him.
“I’m a Mariner now, and I’m trying to help this team win,” he said. “If they tell me I’m going to wherever, I will try to help that team win. As of now, this is where I’m at.”