Lee eyes first trip to postseason
Phillies left-hander ready for taste of October
MIAMI -- Cliff Lee has never pitched in the postseason, which is something he has mentioned a few times since he joined the Phillies in July.
It is something he is eager to experience.
"I feel good. I feel as strong as I have at any point in the season," said Lee, asked about the combined 220 innings he has thrown this season with the Indians and Phillies. "That's what you work all offseason for. To prepare for the end of the season and try to get into the postseason."
The Phillies are eager for him to experience the playoffs, too. It is why they sent four prospects to the Cleveland Indians on July 29 for him and outfielder Ben Francisco. They consider Lee, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, a talent capable of not only pitching well against the National League, but against the American League in a potential return to the World Series.
Lee has had mixed results in his career against the five AL teams that could reach the World Series, although he recently has enjoyed more success against them.
He is 4-4 with a 5.02 ERA in nine career starts against the Yankees, but is 2-1 with a 1.89 ERA in his last three starts against them. He is 5-3 with a 3.32 ERA in eight career starts against the Angels. He threw a complete game against them on May 8, 2007, in Anaheim, and another complete game against them Aug. 15, 2008, in Cleveland.
He is 2-4 with a 4.39 ERA in nine career starts against the Red Sox, but is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in his last two. He threw eight shutout innings against the Red Sox on April 27 in Cleveland.
The Yankees, Angels and Red Sox are near locks for the postseason. The only race in the American League still unsettled is in the AL Central, where the Tigers hold a 2 1/2-game lead over the Twins. Lee is 5-9 with a 4.76 ERA in 20 career starts against the Tigers, but is 1-3 with a 2.73 ERA in his last four starts. He pitched well in those three losses, but the Indians scored a combined two runs in those games. Lee also is 8-3 with a 3.57 ERA in 17 career starts against the Twins, and is 3-1 with a 2.41 ERA in his last five starts against them.
Phillies fans have loved Lee so far. No doubt they have October in the back of their minds when they watch him pitch.
"I'm anxious to see how loud they get in October," Lee said.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.