Remaking the Halladay-Lee comparison, a month later

Leave a comment

About a week before the July 31 trading deadline I wrote an article comparing Roy Halladay to Cliff Lee, concluding that “the gap between them hasn’t been as big as most people seem to think and given the likely costs involved in acquiring each player Lee could prove to be a better target.”
Plenty of comments and e-mails disagreed with me, because at the time Halladay was being touted as the ace getting shopped for packages of elite prospects and Lee was viewed as more of an afterthought or fallback plan. Fast forward a month and things have changed quite a bit.
Halladay stayed in Toronto and has gone 2-3 with a 4.50 ERA and .320 opponents’ batting average in five starts since the trading deadline, including getting knocked around for eight runs on a dozen hits last night. Lee was dealt to the Phillies, where he’s gone 5-0 with a 0.68 ERA and .175 opponents’ batting average in five starts, including allowing just two unearned runs over seven innings last night.
All things being equal I’d still probably take Halladay over Lee long term, but the comparison is an example of why focusing strictly on performance rather than getting caught up in name recognition or perceived value can be illuminating. To the average fan Halladay was the big name and the stud pitcher, but in reality his performance was just slightly better than Lee’s during their previous 50 starts.
No one could have known that Halladay would struggle and Lee would be unhittable, but it wasn’t tough to see that the Phillies got a comparable top-of-the-rotation starter for a fraction of what it would have cost to add the bigger name. Toss in the fact that Lee is 15 months younger and will make $8 million next season while Halladay earns $15.75 million and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is looking awfully smart right now.

Max Scherzer, with broken nose, strikes out 10 Phillies over seven shutout innings

Patrick Smith/Getty Images
3 Comments

Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.

Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.

Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.

Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.