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Has Cliff Lee officially jumped ahead of Roy Halladay in the NL Cy Young Award race?



The General Lee has been on an absolute tear (and no, I’m not talking about the car Bo and Luke Duke drove around Hazzard County).

When he is on his A-game, there might not currently be a better pitcher in Major League Baseball than Cliff Lee.

In August, Lee joined Hall of Famers Walter Johnson and Bob Gibson as the only pitchers to go at least 5-0 in two separate months in one season with no losses and an ERA under 1.00. Lee also went 5-0 in June with a 0.21 ERA, right before I actually was giving him a hard time for being a little underwhelming in his first two months with the club. Go figure?Cliff Lee is back to Philly. Photo: Andrea Kohalmi.

Lee carried over his August mastery right into September by throwing his sixth shutout of the season against the Braves Monday night. That’s the most by a Phillie since Steve Carlton’s Cy Young Award season of 1982. Lee also amassed 200 strikeouts for the first time in his career. In doing so, he became only the 4th left-hander in Phillies history to accomplish this feat, joining Carlton, Cole Hamels, and Chris Short. That is also a pretty exclusive company.

Don’t look now, but little by little, Lee has equaled or bettered the success of Roy Halladay at this point in the season.

Think about it. Lee has the same number of wins (16), a better ERA (2.47 to Halalday’s 2.49), better WHIP (1.03 to Halladay’s 1.06), currently more strikeouts (204 to Halladay’s 195), and even a higher batting average than Halladay (.210 to Halladay’s .113). That last stat was a stretch, but you feel me.Dukes of Hazzard photo: www.streetlegaltv.com

Sure, these numbers can flip flop between the two pitchers’ starts, but if I were a betting man (which I am when called upon), my vote right now would go to Lee to finish with better overall numbers. As great as Halladay is, there are times when he has looked absolutely spent in the second half (I know I sound like a broken record, but it’s true).

The good news is that Halladay probably won’t surpass his innings total of last year. Lee on the other hand, seems to have hit his stride. Over the course of their careers, Halladay has obviously been more consistent than Lee, but when both pitchers are at their best, Lee is virtually untouchable (and no, I haven’t forgotten about Halladay’s masterpieces last season).  

In saying this, the Cy Young race in the National League will be an interesting one for sure. Hamels, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and the Diamondbacks Ian Kennedy will also draw serious consideration for the award.

If Lee continues his dominance however, it’s a no-brainer.

In the meantime, Keep On Phightin!

Joe Vallee is a lifelong Phillies fan and former Phillies batboy. Joe has claimed to have seen about 98% of every Phillies game since the early 1980's.

Contact Joe at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Lee photo: Andrea Kohalmi

Dukes photo: www.streetlegaltv.com


Special thanks to Bob Cummings for his keen insight.