Cliff Lee has suffered yet another elbow injury after pitching two scoreless innings in his Spring debut last Thursday against the Astros. If surgery is required, we may have seen Lee’s final appearance as a Phillie, and a pitcher in MLB.
“Basically, if I have the surgery, this season will be done, possibly my career, I guess. “I don’t know. We’ll have to see,” Lee told AP reporters.
In 2009, Lee was traded to the Phillies to join the then struggling Cole Hamels atop the Phillies’ rotation. Lee went 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA for the Phillies down the stretch, leading them to their second-straight World Series appearance against the Yankees.
That was the first of Lee’s two stints in Philadelphia. In 2010, the Phillies traded Lee to the Mariners in a series of trades that sent Roy Halladay to the Phillies. Fans who hoped that Lee and Halladay could pitch on the same team were rewarded in 2011, when Lee signed a five-year, $120 million contract with the Phillies, completing one of the best rotations ever assembled in baseball history.
In 2011, Lee had his best season in a Phillies uniform, going 17-8 with a 2.40 ERA and six complete games. However, Lee lost a crucial game against the Cardinals in the 2011 NLDS where he blew a 4-0 Phillies lead by giving up five runs over six innings. If Lee was able to hold that lead, the Phillies would have advanced to the NLCS, and possibly to their third World Series in four years.
Since 2011, Lee has gone 24-22 with a 3.23 ERA for the Phillies, and Overall, has gone 48-34 with a 2.94 ERA in his Phillies career.
In short, Lee has been an ace pitcher during his time in Philadelphia, and a lot of the team’s success can be traced back to his success as a pitcher. If Lee has in fact pitched his last game, fans will likely remember Lee for his smooth, cool attitude on and off the mound. Personally, I’ll remember Lee’s professional, seemingly emotionless approach to pitching, even on baseball’s biggest stage.
What is Cliff Lee’s legacy in the eyes of Phillies fans? Does that NLDS start against the Cardinals still haunt fans, or has Lee’s consistency put that to rest?