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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Don't Jump Off Cliff

After starting the season with a ridiculous stretch of seven starts in which he allowed only four earned runs, Cliff Lee has raised his ERA from 0.67 to 2.52 in his last five appearances, allowing nineteen earned runs in that span.  It would appear that the time has come (and possibly gone) to sell high.  I discourage you from doing so.  In fact, if an owner is shopping Cliff Lee, I would recommend bidding for him.  First of all, despite yielding a troublesome number of runs during this recent stretch, Lee has won four out of five.  He only got really roughed up (allowing more than four runs) in two starts and those were at Texas and in Cincinnati, two of the hardest places to pitch in all of baseball.  He managed to go at least five innings every time out and maintained a solid K/BB rate (26/10).  He has dealt with some additional extraneous factors as well: rain delays, especially tight zones (both teams were raising hell during the Texas game which finished with a score of 15-9), good offenses (Reds, Tigers, Rangers), and pitching on the road (4 out of 5).  By going five innings against the Tigers, despite a prolonged rain delay, and yielding only two runs, while fanning five, Lee proved his toughness.  Pick him up now as he heads into a stretch leading up to the All-Star Break where he faces the Padres, Dodgers, and Giants, teams which rank 12th, 13th, and 15th in the NL in runs scored.  Also, in 2005 and 2006, Lee's best seasons, he actually improved in the second half.  With ten wins already and Cleveland's offense bound to improve, I consider him the AL's best bet for 20+ victories.  Don't lose faith and take advantage of those owners that do.     

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