Cliff Lee

Cliff Lee will rejoin the Phillies’ rotation Monday


Cliff Lee struggled in a minor-league rehab start Monday at Single-A, allowing eight runs and failing to make it out of the fifth inning as he comes back from elbow problems, but the Phillies have decided he’s ready to rejoin the rotation.

Jim Salisbury of reports that Lee will come off the disabled list to start Monday against the Giants, in Philadelphia. It’ll be Lee’s first big-league start since May 18 and he told Salisbury: “I feel strong and I feel good and I’m ready to try to help the team win.”

At this point it seems pretty safe to assume that the Phillies would love to trade Lee and the $37.5 million remaining on his contract beyond this season, so there should be a ton of scouts in the crowd Monday night. He’ll have time to make two starts before the July 31 deadline, but because of his contract and the likelihood it’ll clear waivers the Phillies should be able to deal him in August without having their options limited.

Cliff Lee was roughed up in his minor league rehab start Monday

Cliff Lee

Cliff Lee is slated to return from the disabled list one week from today against the Giants in Philadelphia, but Corey Seidman of brings word that his final tuneup in the minors didn’t go smoothly.

Pitching for High-A Clearwater on Monday night, Lee was knocked around for eight runs — three earned — on eight hits and a walk over 4 2/3 innings. He also hit a batter. Following an error by shortstop prospect J.P Crawford, Lee gave up five runs in the first inning, including a two-run home run. No word yet on his velocity, but that’s an ugly outing no matter what. Lee now has a 5.06 ERA and 8/2 K/BB ratio in 10 2/3 innings over three rehab starts.

Lee hasn’t pitched in the majors since May 18 due to a flexor strain in his left elbow, but the timing of his return will allow him to make a couple of starts to prove his health and effectiveness in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Lee, 35, is owed around $12 million for the rest of this season and $25 million for next season while his contract includes a $27.5 million vesting option or $12.5 million buyout for 2016.

Cliff Lee on track to return to Phillies’ rotation July 21

cliff lee shadow getty

From Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer

Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg has announced his post-all-star break rotation.

A.J. Burnett will start the first game back Friday in Atlanta. Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick will pitch the next two days.

Cliff Lee, making his final rehab start Monday in Clearwater, will start July 21 at home against San Francisco and Roberto Hernandez starts the next night.

Lee has made two minor league rehab starts for the High-A Clearwater Threshers — one sharp and the other a bit shaky. The 35-year-old left-hander has been out since mid-May because of a strained muscle in his pitching elbow.

Lee could theoretically fit in three starts for the Phillies before the July 31 trade deadline and he will be an attractive name on the block if he proves to be fully healthy in those outings. He had a 3.18 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and 61/9 K/BB ratio in 68 innings before landing on the disabled list and owns a stellar 2.89 ERA in 814 total innings since signing with Philadelphia. Lee is making $25 million this season, owed another $25 million next season, and carries a $27.5 million vesting option (or $12.5 million buyout) for the 2016 campaign.

Cliff Lee tosses four innings in rehab start at Single-A

Cliff Lee

Cliff Lee’s first minor-league rehab start was cut short by bad weather, but the Phillies left-hander took the mound at Single-A for the second time last night and tossed four innings as planned.

Lee allowed three runs against the Rays’ affiliate, striking out four and walking one while throwing 44 of his 59 pitches for strikes.

Jim Salisbury of reports that Lee will likely make a third rehab start Monday, also at Single-A, at which point the Phillies may decide he’s ready to come off the disabled list after missing the past two months with a strained elbow.

That probably won’t leave enough time for Lee to convince contending teams he’s a healthy asset prior to the July 31 trade deadline, but considering the size of the 35-year-old’s contract he could also be moved during the August waiver trading period. Lee is making $25 million this season and is owed another $25 million in 2015 and $27.5 million or a $12.5 million buyout in 2016.

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Cliff Lee “was trying to hurry” through his first rehab start before rain washed it away

Cliff Lee

Phillies ace Cliff Lee began a minor-league rehab assignment Sunday at Single-A, throwing two innings in a shorter-than-planned outing that was halted by rain.

In fact, Lee’s start never officially happened because the game was eventually suspended. But before rain washed everything away the rehabbing left-hander tossed two scoreless innings, striking out two and allowing one hit.

And via John Perrotto of, Lee told reporters afterward:

I felt fine. I threw two cutters and everything else was a fastball. You could see the weather coming, so I was trying to hurry. It’s another step in the right direction.

Lee has been out since mid-May with a strained elbow, so even if Mother Nature abides he’ll need at least a couple more rehab starts before the Phillies feel comfortable putting him back into the rotation.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $25,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Monday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on MondayHere’s the FanDuel link.