The acquisition of starting pitcher Cliff Lee in Texas probably came as a surprise to many as the Yankees seemed to have a deal finalized only to have it slip out of their hands. Texas swooped in and took what the Yankees wanted in the end with a pretty decent package of players and prospects which were more to Seattle’s liking. Just how bad did the Yankees want him you ask? Enough to want to send their prized catching prospect, Jesus Montero, in part of the deal. They wanted him because he can beat them, because Lee can scare the Yankees and most of all beat them in the playoffs. So with all this you would assume that all seems good on the range, unless you look at the numbers Cliff Lee has posted at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
If you include Lee’s first start with the Rangers in Arlington, a complete game loss to the Orioles, his totals in his new digs aren’t very impressive for the star ace.
8 Starts (4-4) 50.1 IP, 36K’s, a WHIP of 1.45 and an ERA of 7.33, that ERA went down after giving up six runs in his first outing as a Ranger at home. However on a positive note, he does have two complete games in Arlington(Both this year, one with SEA @ TEX and one as a Ranger)
Should these numbers worry the fans in Arlington? Probably not. Once Lee gets accustomed to his new surroundings he should settle in and be the Lee of old. He did this in Philadelphia as well, which is not a pitcher friendly park. The only concern Rangers fan should have is if manager Ron Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux keep letting Lee pitch complete games every night. So far in his first two starts, both losses, he has been in for the full nine innings. Wear and tear on a pitcher is normal but at this rate he may be burned out by mid-late August. Despite trying to give an already worked in bullpen some needed rest, the Rangers may just be doing their ace in by wearing him down in that blistering Texas heat.
Truth of the matter is that the Rangers need Lee this season for a couple of reasons. One is to finally take down the Angels and their dominance of the AL West. Texas has a 4.5 game lead (as of Monday Night) heading into Anaheim for a huge four game set this weekend, followed by three more against Anaheim in Texas the weekend after. They need Lee to win them at least two of these games and then possibly win two of the other five to keep atop the division.
Secondly, they need Lee to lead them into the post season push and playoffs. Texas has been starving for a playoff spot for a while now and I don’t think of a team, even the Yanks or Rays, that want to play them in the first round in a five game set. Ask the Yankees how Cliff Lee can pitch in the post season and factor in an offense that can be deadly at times, and you have a huge recipe for an upset. Another unsung acquisition for Texas was that of Vlad Guerrero. His on field play and his winning attitude off the field has spread like a virus in the Rangers room. Guys like Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler feed off this and grow confidence. Their mettle will be tested in the next two weeks and that may decide a visit to the post season in October.
About the Author
Written by George Kouvalis
A huge fan of sports who loves to travel for major events. I've seen my fair share of major games and events including three Olympics, Wimbledon, The Masters etc.... Always up for a road trip or a drink to talk over sports or pro wrestling, in any city I am in or online. Favorite Teams: Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto FC, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Bulls, San Francisco 49ers, Toronto Argonauts, Manchester United, and of course the teams I blog for, the Texas Rangers and Buffalo Sabres. Follow me on twitter at the handle georgekouvalis