ADDED 1:55PM Oct 19, 2010 by phjoshua
[Image: phjoshua]


Cliff Lee did it again!

If you didn’t see last night’s ALCS game between the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers you missed out on a fantastic performance from the best left handed starting pitcher in baseball. That’s right, I said it, Cliff Lee is the best lefty in the game. It’s not CC Sabathia.

On Monday night Lee picked up right where he has left off in his playoff career and shut down the Yankees in their home ball park to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead in the best of 7 series. Lee struck out 13 Yankees in 8 innings while throwing 122 pitches. The most amazing part is that both Lee and Rangers Manager Ron Washington said that he was ready to come back out for the 9th inning until the Yankees gave up 6 runs to take the game from 2-0 to 8-0. There was no pitch count, no worry and it did not look like there was any stress on the face of the lefty as he continued to work through the powerful Yankees lineup.

The 13 strike outs gave Lee 10 or more Ks in each of his last 3 playoff starts. No pitcher has done that since Hall of Famer Bob Gibson in the 1967 and 1968 World Series and the 1st to do it in 1 post season. Lee had all of his pitches working and the Yankees hitters rarely looked comfortable at the plate. Nothing was down the middle of the plate and he changed speeds effectively all game long.

Lee also improved his personal playoff record to 7-0 in eight starts with an ERA of 1.26. Those are outrageous numbers. Cliff Lee is a big game pitcher and with every start he is driving up his value for this off season when he hits the free agent market. There are prevailing thoughts that the Yankees will make a strong push for his services, but with Nolan Ryan and his partnership group buying the Rangers there is a chance that he will be offered a contract and the chance to lead the pitching staff on what could be a perennial contender in the AL West.

Lee won’t start again in the ALCS until game 7 (if it’s needed) because the ALDS went to a 5th and deciding game against the Tampa Bay Rays. But if the Rangers are able to beat the Yankees in 5 or 6 games there is no doubt in my mind that Cliff Lee starts game 1 of the World Series for the Texas Rangers.

And even though I’m hoping that the Giants can dethrone the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS I will admit that the thought of a Roy Halladay vs Cliff Lee matchup in the World Series gives me goosebumps.

No matter what happens in the rest of the ALCS and World Series I can guarantee you this, no team is looking forward to facing Cliff Lee for the rest of the 2010 MLB playoffs.
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