Exactly how great was Cliff Lee’s performance last night? Well …
Years ago Bill James invented a metric called Game Score that assigned a numerical value to every start based on the following criteria:
– Start with 50 points.
– Add 1 point for each out recorded.
– Add 2 points for each inning completed after the fourth.
– Add 1 point for each strikeout.
– Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed.
– Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed.
– Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed.
– Subtract 1 point for each walk.
If a pitcher tossed a nine-inning perfect game and struck out all 27 batters he faced, his Game Score would be 114. In terms of actual Game Scores, the highest ever recorded in a nine-inning start belongs to Kerry Wood, who racked up a 105 with his 20-strikeout, one-hit, no-walk shutout against the Astros in 1998.
So where does Lee’s outing last night rank among the all-time best World Series starts? Thanks to the magic of Baseball-Reference.com and according to Game Score, here are the 10 most dominant World Series outings since the mound was raised in 1969:
YEAR IP H R BB SO PIT GS
Randy Johnson 2001 9.0 3 0 1 11 110 91
Roger Clemens 2000 8.0 2 0 0 9 112 87
Orel Hershiser 1988 9.0 3 0 2 8 101 87
Tom Glavine 1995 8.0 1 0 3 8 109 85
Mike Boddicker 1983 9.0 3 1 0 6 107 85
Jack Morris 1991 10.0 7 0 2 8 126 84
Josh Beckett 2003 9.0 5 0 2 9 107 84
John Tudor 1985 9.0 5 0 1 8 108 84
CLIFF LEE 2009 9.0 6 1 0 10 122 83
Greg Maddux 1995 9.0 2 2 0 4 95 83
Many people would point to Jack Morris going 10 innings to complete his Game 7 shutout against the Braves in 1991 as the best World Series start of the past 40 years and as a Twins fan I’d be hard-pressed to disagree, but Game Score doesn’t account for the magnitude of a Game 7 and also docks him a bit (relatively speaking, of course) for giving up seven hits and two walks.
Instead of Morris’ gem, the metric shows Randy Johnson’s three-hit, 11-strikeout shutout in Game 2 against the Yankees in 2001 as the top World Series performance since 1969. Lee’s shaky ninth inning last night keeps him from ranking much higher on the list, but there’s no doubt that we witnessed one of the great World Series starts of all time.
Now the big question is whether or not the Phillies will let him try again on short rest in Game 4.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.
Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.
The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.
Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.
The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.
He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.