Behind Cliff Lee's mediocre start

His K's are up, and so are his walks. But the real difference could be the Phillies' D

Originally Published: June 11, 2011
By Ben Jedlovec | Baseball Info Solutions
Cliff LeeHoward Smith/US PresswireCliff Lee's 2011 performance hasn't met expectations so far.

When Philadelphia Phillies fans penciled Cliff Lee in as their No. 2 starter, they imagined a dominant control pitcher who doesn't blow hitters away but keeps runs off the board. A superficial glance at his 2011 numbers shows a mediocre 5-5 record with an ERA of 3.62 -- respectable numbers, but mildly disappointing from a pitcher billed as one of the league's best. A deeper look reveals an interesting contrast in the lefty's past two seasons.

Lee's 10.3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2010 was the second-highest in history among qualified starters, behind only Bret Saberhagen's 11.0 in the strike-shortened 1994 season. His 18 walks in 212 1/3 innings gave Lee one of the lowest walk rates in history, while his strikeout rate of 7.8 per nine innings was hardly better than the league average (7.1).

To read Ben Jedlovec's full take on Cliff Lee's start, including what you can expect from him going forward, become an ESPN Insider.