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Cliff Lee revisited

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Cliff Lee revisited

Postby Spartans Rule » Thu Jun 05, 2008 6:19 pm

The Cliff Lee honeymoon period is officially over.

Numbers over last four starts: 23.1 IP, 3-1 (somehow), 6.56 ERA, 1.89 WHIP, 21 K, 8 BB.

The optimist in me says the K/BB ratio isn't too bad and he's just been unlucky with hits lately, kind of an evening out of his early good luck. His 65/12 K/BB for the season is still very nice.

The pessimist in me says the real, extremely hittable Cliff Lee is back. All downhill from here, with the mass waivings beginning by Independence Day.

What do the masses think? What's his trade value right now?
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Re: Cliff Lee revisited

Postby JTWood » Fri Jun 06, 2008 8:54 am

Well, let's take a look at his trends:

What we see in this first chart is that he's getting hit hard. That LD rate has jumped through the roof. An LD rate in the mid 20s is high. The good news here, though, is that the LD rate jump came from his FB rate and not from his extraordinarily high GB rate (compared to his historical norms). If a guy has to choose between converting FBs or GBs to LDs, he should almost always take FBs. That lowers the chance of HRs, and the continuance of GBs will potentially lead to double plays that can get him out of trouble.

On a red, yellow, green warning scale, I'd give this first chart a yellow.

Image

Next, we're going to take a look at his BABIP. Insomuch as he was getting lucky during his hot streak, he is getting equally "unlucky" now. However, knowing what we know about his LD rate from the last chart, I would say that this BABIP, while high, makes some degree of sense. If you're hit pitches are getting clobbered nearly 25% of the time, those guys are probably going to get on base more often than that.

I'd give this chart another yellow rating on the scale.

Image

Next, let's look at some of his important peripherals to see if there is any skill degradation or reversion going on here.

As we see below, his K rate was higher during his streak, but it wasn't ridiculous - and it's only slightly reverted during this cold streak. What is disturbing, though, is his increase in walks. Granted, his walk rate was not only minuscule by his own standard, it was ridiculous by every standard. So, this increase was expected, even if it is unwelcome.

I would rate these charts a yellow, too.

Image

Image

Now let's take one last look at his game lines. Over the last 4 games you summarized, 2 were in hitter-friendly parks (Great American & Arlington). How'd he do in those two games? 9.28 ERA, 10 K, 3 BB, 16 FB (3 HR), 16 GB, 8 LD. How'd he do in the other two games? 4.26 ERA, 11 K, 5 BB, 10 FB (0 HR), 22 GB, 10 LD. During those games, his strike-to-ball ratio didn't really move too much from their numbers earlier in the season, which is a good sign.

At this point in my analysis, I'm ready to say that this guy is just leveling out and that he will still provide value, even if there will be good days and bad days mixed in. But then I noticed his pitch counts this year:

108, 102, 109, 120, 97, 103, 117, 96, 113, 101, 112

He's only thrown less than 100 pitches in 2 games this year, and one of them was when he got clobbered by the Reds. Even though he threw 200+ innings in '05 and '06, this is a guy that only pitched in 97 innings last year. My first "red" warning sign is that possibly he's getting worn out. If his pitches are still making it over the plate, and if they're just getting hit better, either hitters have figured him out, or he's lost some movement/speed on his fastball. Possibly, he's having location issues with his fastball. Hitters did comment that during his streak, his fastball was ridiculous not only in its movement but also in it lethal accuracy.

So what to do with Lee? Well, you can't bench the guy. That just makes no sense. I'd say the days of plenty are looking like they've come to an end. If you can trade him for a top-tier pitcher right now, I would do it in a heartbeat. If not, hold on to him and keep an eye on that LD rate. If it continues to stay up, or if his FB rate returns with an increase in HR/FB, I'd say that's a pretty serious warning sign. If the LD rate normalizes, then this was just a spate of him getting some hot hitters, and his numbers should go back to being contributory in nature.
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Re: Cliff Lee revisited

Postby J35J » Fri Jun 06, 2008 9:18 am

He's a 4+ERA/1.30WHIP type of a pitcher who was in a crazy groove to start the year. He may or may not reach those numbers this year because of his great start but that's the level he'll throw at from here on out, IMHO.
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Re: Cliff Lee revisited

Postby StlSluggers » Fri Jun 06, 2008 9:49 am

J35J wrote:He may or may not...

You don't say... Goin' out on a limb there, aren't ya, Jason? ;-)
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Re: Cliff Lee revisited

Postby Bwanna » Fri Jun 06, 2008 10:55 am

Spartans Rule wrote:What do the masses think? What's his trade value right now?


I picked him up early in a couple of leagues, and after 2 or 3 great starts, I started shopping him. I traded him for Youk in one league, and thought I might be undervaluing Lee at the time, and overvaluing Youk, but was really afraid to hang on to Lee any longer.

In another (keeper) league, I traded him for Soto, which I felt very good about.

I don't think I could get those deals now in either league.
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Re: Cliff Lee revisited

Postby Field » Fri Jun 06, 2008 11:50 am

Nice analysis JT ;-D . I own Lee in one league and I'll have to agree with you. I play in a QS league and I think he'll certainly be servicable from here on out. I'm definitely not going to throw him out there every time though. I knew his start @Tex was a game to bench him especially with their hot hitting of late, but I couldn't quite do it because of his amazing start to the year. I'm finally past the point where he's an every game type of guy.
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Re: Cliff Lee revisited

Postby redstorm41 » Tue Jun 10, 2008 4:40 am

In a keeper league I was able to deal Lee for Morrow, Parra, and Loewen (minors squad) and then turned that around by dealing Parra, Morrow, and Francis for Swisher and Balentien. So in the end I essentially dealt Lee for Swisher, Balentien, and Loewen. All and all, considering that Lee started out on the WW, I think I did pretty well here.

The starts against Kansas City and Texas did raise a red flag for me and wasn't too pleased with what I saw.
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Re: Cliff Lee revisited

Postby mweir145 » Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:32 am

He's starting to actually look like Cliff Lee now, basically.
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Re: Cliff Lee revisited

Postby Yoda » Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:40 am

To be fair, he has pitched 4 of his last 5 starts on the road. He should still be solid.
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Re: Cliff Lee revisited

Postby Field » Tue Jun 10, 2008 10:48 am

I just traded him in a package deal to get Peavy. He actually looked pretty good last night before the rain started to come down. He has tremendous command of his fastball especially inside on right-handed batters.
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