Cliff Lee: Analyzing The Rangers' World Series Game 5 Starting Pitcher

Cliff Lee will be taking the mound for the Rangers in Game 5 of their World Series showdown against the Giants. (The full World Series schedule can be seen here.) To help get you ready, we offer the following scouting report.

Vitals

6'3, 190
Left-handed
212.1 innings
3.18 ERA
7.8 K/9
0.8 BB/9

2010 Playoffs

28.2 innings, 9 runs, 2 walks, 41 strikeouts

Last Start Summary

Lee started Game 1 of the World Series, and after opening the playoffs with three consecutive gems, he got lit up by a Giants order that didn't seem to pose much of a threat. They pushed two across in the third inning, and then really stormed out in the fifth, knocking Lee to the dugout before the end of the inning. Though his seven strikeouts and one walk look good, his location was off and he threw far too many pitches around the center of the plate, and it's for that reason the Giants were able to get him for five doubles. Though Lee's a terrific starting pitcher, his margin of error isn't enormous, and Game 1 showed what happens when he can't put his pitches in a teacup.

Repertoire

Despite his numbers, Cliff Lee isn't an overpowering guy. His fastball, though good, only sits around 90-92mph, with average movement. The key - for this pitch, and for all of his pitches - is his ability to spot the ball pretty much wherever he wants. He throws his fastball more than three-fifths of the time. His primary backup pitch is his cutter, in the 85-88mph range. His cutter breaks in on righties, with a good bit of sink. Lee's primary non-fastball pitch is an 84-86mph change, which has a lot of run on it in towards lefties. Finally, he throws a big, looping curve in the mid-70s with a lot of downward break. He's been known to throw a slider, but it's infrequent.

Facing Righties

Lee sees a ton of righties, but he actually struck out a greater percentage of righties than lefties this past season. Righties will see all of his pitches. His first pitch is generally a fastball or a cutter somewhere over the outer half. In the unusual event that he falls behind, he'll often come back with a fastball more towards the center of the zone. When he gets ahead, he scatters. He'll throw a ton of inside cutters, but he'll also blend in some low, outside changeups and fastballs all around. Two-strike counts generally mean a lot of cutters and curves. It's worth noting that righties hit more fly balls against Lee than lefties, as he isn't afraid to work higher in the zone with his fastball. 

Facing Lefties

Left-handed hitters almost exclusively see fastballs and cutters from Lee, as those combine for about 87% of his pitches. As he does against righties, Lee likes to start a lefty off with a fastball or cutter somewhere over the outer half. He'll try the same thing when he's behind, and it isn't too different when he's ahead 0-1, either, although he'll take some more liberties and pitch a bit more inside on occasion. Curveballs will get sprinkled in in two-strike counts, oftentimes for called strikes. He doesn't really throw a whiff pitch, preferring instead to throw strikes and keep the hitter on the defensive. It works.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.