Cliff Lee throws first shutout with double-digit strikeouts and under 100 pitches since 2009

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Cliff Lee was brilliant against the Nationals last night, hurling a complete-game shutout while allowing just three hits and one walk.

He also struck out 12 and needed only 99 pitches to record 27 outs, becoming the first pitcher since Chris Carpenter in 2009 to throw a complete-game shutout with double-digit strikeouts while using fewer than 100 pitches.

Thanks to Baseball-Reference.com, here’s a list of all the pitchers to accomplish that since 2000:

                        DATE     SO     PIT
Cliff Lee            4-14-11     12      99
Chris Carpenter       9-7-09     10      99
Chris Carpenter      6-14-05     10      95
Roy Halladay         5-29-05     10      99
Roy Oswalt           4-16-04     10      91
Mike Mussina          5-1-01     10      99
Curt Schilling       4-10-01     10      93

It has happened only seven times in 10-plus seasons and Lee is the only guy to have more than 10 strikeouts in a sub-100-pitch shutout.

Also worth noting: Of the seven such games, two belong to Carpenter, two belong to retired guys, and the other three belong to current members of the Phillies’ rotation. Which makes me wonder if anyone has written anything about Philadelphia’s starting pitching likely being good this season?

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”