The Philadelphia Phillies have signed Cliff Lee to a five-year deal, giving them one of baseball's best starting rotations (though the San Francisco Giants may have something to say). It also reunites the Phils with Lee, almost one year to the day (Dec. 15, 2009) that they traded the pitcher to the Seattle Mariners for J. C. Ramírez, Phillippe Aumont and Tyson Gillies.
Lee originally came to Philadelphia in 2009 -- again, via a trade -- when the Cleveland Indians shipped him off at the deadline. In his first ever start with the Phillies, Lee thew a compete game in a 5-1 victory (and took a no-hitter into the sixth inning). In his first five starts he allowed just three earned runs in 40 innings pitched.
He eventually came back to Earth a bit (Lee allowed six earned runs or more in three of his final seven starts), but finished the 2009 regular season with a 7-4 record for the Phillies, while putting up a 3.39 ERA with 74 strikeouts in 79.2 innings (compared to just 10 walks).
But then the playoffs came and that's where Lee truly shined. Pitching in his first ever postseason, Lee went 4-0 in five starts, with two complete games (his shortest outing was 7.1 innings). He finished with a 1.56 ERA and struck out 33 while just six walks and seven earned runs in 40.1 innings.
Ever more good news for Phillies fans: Lee is 5-1 in eight career starts against N.L. East teams, with a 3.24 ERA.
Grounders can be a pitcher's best friend.