Cliff Lee: Is He The 2010 Version of Cole Hamels?

In 2007 Cole Hamels established himself as an ace starting pitcher with the Phillies going 15-5 with a 3.39 ERA and a 1.124 WHIP to go with his 177 strikeouts in 183 innings. In 2008, Hamels was the World Series MVP, going 14-10 during the regular season, with a 3.09 ERA and 1.082 WHIP. He struck out 196 in 227+ innings. He then went on to throw another 25 innings in the playoffs and World Series, raising his season total innings pitched to 262+ innings. Quite a jump from 183 innings in 2007. Then in 2009, we all saw what the jump in innings did to Hamels, where he finished with a 10-11 record with a 4.32 ERA and 1.286 WHIP. Not good numbers for a high draft pick or $25+ starting pitcher in auction leagues.

That brings us to Cliff Lee. In 2008, Lee won the AL Cy Young Award, going 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. He struck out 170 in 223+ innings. In 2009, between Cleveland and Philadelphia, Lee went 14-13 during the regular season with a 3.22 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP, to go with his 181 strikeouts in 232+ innings. He then went on to throw another 40 innings in the NLDS, NLCS and World Series. So he thew 272 innings in 2009, a jump of 50 innings from 2008.

I present this as I am concerned that Lee may experience a fall off in performance compared to his last two seasons where he put up ace numbers, similar to what Hamels experienced this season. The Phillies are looking to talk extension with Lee this offseason after his great performance in this year's playoffs and World Series.

Lee will more than likely be drafted fairly high in 2010 drafts, and go for $25+ in auction league drafts. Just something to think about as you head into those drafts in 5 months.

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