Thursday, September 2, 2010

You Left-Handed or Right-Handed?

Cliff Lee is left-handed. Roy Oswalt is right-handed. If Phillies had it their way — myself included — they'd have stuck with greatest man who ever lived. When the trade rumors were swirling around the Phillies and Oswalt, the entire Delaware Valley wondered, "Why didn't they just keep Cliff Lee?"

Take a poll of Philadelphians, and they still would probably prefer the Phillies never giving away Cliff Lee — especially with the prospects they got in return toiling away in the minors and/or having a sweet tooth for the nose candy. But man, right about now, no one in this city considers Oswalt a consolation prize anymore.

Since becoming a Phillie, Oswalt has been "as advertised". Meanwhile, Cliff Lee has not.

Oswalt has started seven games for the Phils. He is 4-1 with a miniscule 1.89 ERA and 0.986 WHIP. And that's including his less-than-stellar debut. Take that out of the equation, and his ERA drops to 1.30 over his last six starts. Not bad.

Lee, on the other hand, is just 2-5 since heading over to Texas with a very un-Cliff-like 4.69 ERA and 1.128 WHIP. The Rangers — who are 9.5 games up in the NL West and 17 games above .500, meaning they win a ton of games — have only won three of the 11 games he's pitched in. He's lost his last five starts, in which time he has a 8.28 ERA. In 11 starts as a Ranger, he's given up four or more runs a staggering seven times. He looks nothing like the unhittable force from last postseason.

Yes, Lee had a rough stretch with the Phillies as well, getting hit around a bit for a few starts in between his brilliant start and spectacular finish, but nothing like this. It's the worst stretch of pitching Lee has had since his injury-plagued 2007 season.

At the same time, Oswalt, another guy who has been a dominant force in the playoffs during the heyday of the Astros, has been as good as he's ever been. He's not Cliff Lee, and for Philadelphians, he probably never will be Cliff Lee. But right now, at this point in time, Roy Oswalt is pitching way, way better than Cliff Lee. I never thought I'd type those words, but it's true. The numbers don't lie. Neither do the results.

And if Roy Oswalt and the Phillies can do what last year's team could not — through no fault of Lee — he just may move ahead of the lefty that got away in Philadelphians' hearts. Maybe.

I know this much, Ruben Amaro is all smiles right about now.

And I still miss Cliff Lee. "Just shut up and give me the Kleenex."

BallHype: hype it up!

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