Hopefully Cliff Lee realizes wins are a dumb stat for pitchers

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Cliff Lee just tossed six innings of three-run ball in his final start of the season and has so often been the case he took a loss because the Phillies’ lineup scored all of one run.

Lee finishes the year with a 3.16 ERA and 207/28 K/BB ratio in 211 innings. And he’s going to wind up with a grand total of six wins. Or perhaps I should say six “wins” because of how silly the stat can be.

For instance, Ivan Nova has 12 “wins” with a 5.02 ERA in 170 innings and Bruce Chen has 11 “wins” with a 5.07 ERA in 192 innings.

Five times this season Lee allowed zero or one run in a start and failed to record a win. And he failed to get a win when allowing three or fewer runs a total of 14 times.

Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes that Lee is now the first pitcher in baseball history to win fewer than eight games with 200-plus strikeouts and a sub-3.20 ERA. And, coincidentally I’m sure, Lee ranks 85th among 90 qualified pitchers in run support.

Must-Click Link: “Skunk in the Outfield”

Associated Press
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Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.

No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.

Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Set some time aside to read this today.

Rubby De La Rosa to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery

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This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.

De La Rosa has had elbow  issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.

I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.

He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.