Remaking the Halladay-Lee comparison, a month later

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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.

Yu Darvish suffers setback during rehab start

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Cubs starter Yu Darvish suffered a setback during Sunday’s rehab start with Low-A South Bend, The Athletic’s Jon Greenberg reports. Darvish threw just 19 pitches in the first inning and felt fine. However, when he took the mound to warm up ahead of the second inning, Darvish “felt something” in his injured right elbow. He exited the game to undergo an MRI.

Darvish’s condition isn’t yet known, but it’s obviously bad news. Darvish signed a six-year, $126 million contract in February and has made just eight starts this season. He owns a 4.95 ERA with 49 strikeouts and 21 walks in 40 innings and hasn’t pitched since May 20.

Darvish said he hopes to return before the end of the regular season to help the team. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is realistic about the situation. He said, “It’s a process. We’ll see how he feels. It’s been a long road back, so there’s no point in rushing it now. We probably have one chance given where we are on the calendar to get this right, so that’s the priority.”

Mike Montgomery has pitched out of the rotation in Darvish’s place but he is also currently on the disabled list. Tyler Chatwood, with a 5.22 ERA and 93 walks in 101 2/3 innings, was booted from the rotation at the end of July after the Cubs acquired Cole Hamels. The Cubs, entering Sunday 20 games over .500 and fewer than five games ahead of the Cardinals and Brewers in the NL Central, need some reliability at the back of the rotation.